Superman #6 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ivan Reis, Penciller; Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Teenager Time?
Ray: The addition of General Zod to this title has been a breath of fresh air, as the ruthless Kryptonian military man has been the perfect foil to the rambling, incoherent villainy of the sadistic Rogol Zaar. Zod is probably Superman’s most underrated villain, and Bendis has been using him well here. The first half of the issue is a stunning, mostly prose showcase for Ivan Reis’ art as Superman – caught in between the seconds of this super-speed fight in the Phantom Zone – observes the battle between Rogol and Zod and wonders if and how he should intervene. This is an unsure, vulnerable Superman, one we’ve rarely seen in modern comics, and Bendis’ inner monologue for him is strong. Eventually, he decides to unleash Zod, in a moral compromise that makes for the issue’s most compelling moment, and he seems to be reaching a defining moment – and then the issue’s trajectory changes in a second.
When Superman is pulled out of the Phantom Zone by Adam Strange and Atom, it’s one of the most surprising moments of the issue. It’s not often that you see a hero literally stopped in his tracks and left powerless as a bigger battle plays out. But despite his shock and the other heroes’ confusion that he doesn’t seem happy that the villains are trapped again, he soon rebounds and saves people from the aftermath of the Phantom Zone disaster. I’m really starting to warm to Bendis’ take on Superman, at least his personal reflections if not his supporting cast fully yet. I wish that we hadn’t been shown that, yes, Rogol Zaar was the winner between the two villains and will be continuing to plague Superman – just because I’m so tired of him. The return of Jon Kent, spoiled by the cover and solicits, revealed that he now seems to be a teenager – not a grizzled adult, thankfully. I’m hoping this means he’ll be interacting with Clark’s other associated teenagers soon. Bat-Super teen hangout, maybe?
Corrina: To address the cliffhanger, one of the reasons I’m opposed to heroes having children in superhero comics is that their fate is inevitable. Either they’re aged up, like Jon, so they can be used in more than all-ages adventures, or they’re killed off or written out. (Anyone remember Chris Kent? Sin? And there’s poor Lian….) Basically, we never see the child age appropriately because this is superhero comics and everything is reset. Sometimes, they get to stay the same age for years, like Damian Wayne, but I’m sure at some point, we’ll be reading about older Damian. (And we already have flash-forwards with him.)
About the only hero where the aging has stuck and worked is Dick Grayson from Robin to Nightwing.
So when I see teenage Jon appear, this is why I’m not excited. I’m even less excited because I would imagine we’re getting a whole “why did Mom leave you for years?” argument between Clark and Lois. (Please let me be wrong on this one.)
As for the issue itself. yes, Bendis does seem to get the essential goodness of Superman, especially when having to make the hard choices, but I’m wondering if Superman really would refuse to finish what he started. Now, if Jon had shown up when Superman was deciding, that would be a more compelling reason to stay. But, as written, I’m not sure I buy this decision.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.