The Man of Steel #2 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Doc Shaner, Steve Rude, Jay Fabok, Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Quality Drop From #1
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Man of Steel #1, Bendis’ big debut on Superman, was an unqualified success for me, but this second issue drags quite a bit.
I’m highly interested in the villain, and Bendis’ Superman is still spot-on, but the central mystery about the disappearance of Lois Lane and Jon Kent is dragging the story down – especially as we know it’s unlikely to be resolved too soon. The issue has an elite team of artists – but it is a team, with Steve Rude jumping on to finish the last third of the issue – and it shows. The issue opens in the aftermath of the destruction of Krypton, as Appa Ali Apsa realizes just how far the obsessed warrior may have gone, and dissuades the other members of the council from investigating. In the present day, at the Daily Planet, Bendis introduces his third original character, the arts and leisure reporter Trish Q. Trish quickly becomes a target of Robinson Goode, who wants her help to get to the bottom of what Clark is hiding about the disappearance of Lois. Most people seem to think they’ve divorced and she’s taken Jon.
Bendis really seems to enjoy writing Perry White, giving him more page time than he’s probably gotten since Rebirth started. There’s a distinct J. Jonah Jameson vibe to some of his scenes – less malicious, of course, but he seems to have been given more of an edge. This is explained, though, in a segment that explains just how much trouble the Daily Planet is in due to the era of new media. Superman has less of a role to play this issue, but the scene where he teams up with Green Lantern to stop Toyman in Coast City is strong. Bendis seems to be going for a bit of a retro vibe with his run, restoring Toyman to his original, goofy look. The two-page Jason Fabok flashback segment continues to show what happened to Lois and Jon, but as it unfolds so slowly, it’s unlikely we’re getting real answers in this miniseries. Steve Rude’s segment is overall strong, but the difference in style really shows in the final scene – Rogol Zaar heading to Earth looks less like the imposing figure of terror he was in the first issue, and more like Lobo’s military cousin. Overall, lots of promise here, but a major downgrade from the first issue.
Corrina: For all my frustration that the first thing Bendis did with his run on Superman was to sideline his family, and take Lois Lane out of a journalism story, I found the first issue well-written, with an appealing Superman.
I can’t say this about the second issue.
I’ve always had issues with Bendis’ dialogue, stylized as it can be. In this issue, the exchange between Trish and Robinson Goode grates. Why would a lifestyle reporter know more about Lois than people she works with on the city newsdesk, unless they’re good friends, and there is no indication that they are. If Goode wanted to know more about Lois, she should be contacting Sam or Lucy Lane or, if she wants to avoid Clark, finding a way to get Jimmy alone to interrogate him. She should also be looking at court records to see if Lois filed for a separation or even hacking into records of the post office to find out if Lois has a change of address. There are so many ways to make this new investigative reporter look smart in this issue and Bendis chooses instead to have her snipe at the “gossip” reporter.
As for Perry, yes, there should be a grave concern in that newsroom about not making enough money to keep the Daily Planet alive. Except, the whole method Perry chooses is not going to be one that helps. It’s already a given that great content will not keep a newspaper afloat because people get their news from the web, preferably free.
Online ad revenue will not replace print ad revenue and the day of healthy print subscription revenue is long gone. If Perry is complaining about anything, it should be assigning reporters sponsored ads that are disguised to look like new stories or having to oversee a website whose sole purpose is to bring in revenue from reviews.
Yes, I know. Fiction often shorthands reality. But when reality can also provide similar conflict, then I’m going to side-eye the fiction.
On Lois, Bendis apparently said on Twitter that Lois is in every issue of this series and people will be apologizing for objecting to her disappearance at some point in the future. I usually avoid creator interviews and statements because I’d rather judge the work on its own merits but I happened to hear this and I can only say that, judging by these first two issues, I would bail on Bendis’ Superman, long before he claims I’d start enjoying the story.
Money is short and time is short, and why stick with something I’m not enjoying at the beginning?
The first issues are to hook people.
I’m not hooked, either by the characterization, the dialogue, or the story choices. But the art sure makes it all look outstanding.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.