Review – The Man of Steel #5: Stalled

Man of Steel #5 cover
There are some parallels to the Doomsday story. But not this one. Image via DC Comics

The Man of Steel #5 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Adam Hughes, Jason Fabok, Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: The Plot Makes Little Sense

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: Man of Steel #5 is easily the weakest chapter of Bendis’ weekly Superman debut, and the problem is both the writing style and the direction of the story at different points. The majority of this issue is drawn by Adam Hughes, who brings an almost painterly quality to the increasingly dire events. Hughes likes his widescreen action, and that’s what Bendis delivers, with the battle with Rogol Zaar heading to the stars as the villain shows exactly how powerful he is. The opening battle on the moon is gorgeous, with no dialogue and Superman’s inner thoughts dominating. The horrific reality of exactly what Zaar has done is settling in, and Bendis does do a good job of conveying Superman’s shell-shock. However, the problem is that Zaar has said so little so far except in his earliest appearances that he seems more like a Doomsday-esque cipher in many places. Where Hughes’ art is at its best when dealing with epic battles, it does feel a little stiff when it comes to the rest of the characters – his Supergirl, in particular, is a bit jarring in comparison to Kevin Maguire’s last issue.

The big problem with this issue is the Jason Fabok segment – while it looks brilliant, the story has some major issues. The last issue revealed that Jor-El was the one arriving at the apartment, and he was there for Jon Kent. This issue repeats the plot from The Oz Effect, of him trying to recruit Jon to train him in the ways of a true Kryptonian off-Earth. The issue is, Bendis doesn’t seem to have actually read that story, because the characters act completely differently. Lois, understandably, is horrified by the idea of sending her son off with a man she barely knows, while Jon wants to go and seems almost rude and dismissive of his parents. And Clark…seems to be considering it? In what world? It seems likely that Superman is going to give Jon his blessing and this will cause a rift with Lois. If I’m right, that’s possibly the worst way short of death that I could think of to break off the marriage. Aside from some weird Flash dialogue, the issue ends strong with Zaar’s plan for Earth being revealed and showing just how far he’s gone.

The issue is, I’m still not entirely sold on Bendis’ plan for Superman’s world, and definitely not on his take on the Super-marriage.

Man of Steel #5 page 5
Fight for the Earth. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: In five issues, we’ve progressed maybe two pages in the flashback with Clark, Jon, Lois, and Jor-El. The flashback panels this time includes a ridiculous argument over whether to hand over Jon to a guy who’s shown to be A MASS-MURDERER. What the heck?  Sure, Jor-El is Clark’s father back from the dead. He’s also the guy who killed enough people in that earlier arc to be guilty of genocide. So, this makes no sense.

But, more, there are other plotting issues. Rogol Zaar could have killed Superman on the moon but he inexplicably leaves him there, presumably so they can have a showdown at the center of the Earth later. And why does Supergirl stay behind in the fight? Of course, they should tackle him together. Zero of the confrontation makes sense except it’s all there to tread water to the revelation of the planet-destroying thing at the center of the planet.

And the planet-destroying thing destroys any subtlety to Zaar. Apparently, he was afraid of what the Kryptonians could do, so he destroyed, supposedly, an entire planet. Okay, but now he wants to get rid of 3 Kryptonians, and he destroys an entire planet again? (I guess he doesn’t know about Jor-El…) And if he had a planet destroyer, why didn’t he plant it and hang back? Why destroy Kandor first, since it’ll go up with the rest? The reason, again, seems to be to draw the story out, not for any character or internal plot reasons.

I wanted to love what Bendis did with Superman. He’s so high profile and a great Superman story could have lifted all the Superman books. But a weak villain, plotting issues, Flash weirdly spouting caca jokes, drawing out the mystery of Lois and Jon’s disappearance, refusing to use Lois at all……a few of these would be problems in the story.

Together, they’re fatal to any enjoyment that might have been gained from the story.

This is a horrible start.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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