Superman #5 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ivan Reis, Penciller; Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Not Bad
Ray: Superman #4 is easily Bendis’ best issue of this title, although it still hasn’t reached the character-driven heights of his Action Comics run. Mired in the fight with the genocidal Rogol Zaar since the beginning of the miniseries that launched this run, this issue pulls back from the battle between Superman and Zaar and turns the focus on an unlikely character – General Zod. Zod hasn’t faced off with Superman in a while, but he played a major role in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps as he took over a planet and began building it into his New Krypton. This issue makes clear that he’s a man haunted by the losses he’s suffered, and his opening dream sequence – where he presides over a peaceful union between the Houses of Zod, El, and Kandor until it’s shattered by violence – makes it clear that Bendis’ take on Zod is more complex than most. He’s pulled away from his family when he gets word from his son that Earth has gone missing, and that sends him into a meeting with Adam Strange.
The whole subplot of Earth being missing just as Adam Strange appears to teleport back has been the series’ best, and the segment this issue as Adam Strange and Zod find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time as Earth grows back to normal size right in front of them is a stunning display of just how good Ivan Reis’ art can be. Once Earth is semi-restored, Zod hunts down Ray Palmer and demands that Ray use the Phantom Zone generator to send him to the same place as Superman. The segments of the issue dealing with Superman and Zaar are, predictably, the weakest. Superman’s dialogue as he tries to find common ground with the monster is strong, but Zaar is barely even a character. He’s a glaring weak spot for the series, and I hope he’s gone. Bendis’ strong characterization of Zod only makes it more glaring, and the coming showdown of the two Kryptonians against the being that killed their world should be exciting. If Bendis drops Zaar for good after this arc, this title does have the potential to rival its sister title for quality.
Corrina: I enjoyed just about everything in this issue except the title character and Rogol Zaar.
Which is to say I think Bendis might write a good Justice League book but I’m not convinced that his Superman work is at the level promised when he signed with DC. As Ray said, Zaar has dragged down the story in every appearance in Bendis’ run and this is no exception. This is especially galling because the whole concept behind Zaar, that he destroyed Krypton to prevent Kryptonians from exploiting and destroying the universe, has never been explained clearly. What was it the Kryptonians were doing, when, and how did Zaar become that genocidal?
I guess Bendis is saving that but, if so, he’s saved it for far too late. It’s a bad story setup, much like the baffling separation of Lois and Clark that also makes little story sense.
But, Zod, yes, Zod is good this issue, as is Adam Strange and Ray Palmer.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.