Superman #9 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ivan Reis, Penciller; Brandon Peterson, Artist; Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 4/10
Corrina: So Much For a Calm Adolescence
Ray: Coming off two issues that set up the new status quo and delivered strong characterization combined with some puzzling plot choices, Superman #9, unfortunately, delivers the worst story of Bendis’ DC writing career. Superboy’s bizarre and suspenseful cosmic road trip with his potentially-villainous grandfather comes to a crashing halt and he winds up in the custody of another Super with far more nefarious intentions. What ensues is both cruel and bizarre. The issue opens with a flash-forward or vision of Superman’s to what will be known as “World Peace Day”, when he and all his allies – and even enemies like Zod – unite to celebrate the utopia they built. But in the present day, Jon tells his parents of what happened when he crashed in the Crime Syndicate world. The gang of dysfunctional doppelgangers immediately attack him, looking to kill him – but Superman’s evil double Ultraman immediately zeroes in on him and deposits him in a secret volcano prison.
What ensues is one of the strangest comics I’ve ever read, as Bendis reinvents Ultraman as some sort of supervillain Goombah. He talks in a thick Jersey accent, and oh boy does he like to talk. Sometimes he’ll beat up Jon, sometimes he’ll just yell at him and rant, other times they’ll have a conversation that ends with Ultraman crying. The character almost feels like a parody, but it’s impossible to ignore that he’s keeping a little boy prisoner in a volcano prison. And about that “little boy” thing – by the time Jon breaks loose, he’s notably older. Either the age he is now or close. So we’re talking about him being held in mostly solitary confinement at the hands of a maniac for over five years. That’s such a bizarrely sadistic way to explain Jon’s age-lift that I don’t even know what to make of it. And now that he’s faced off against the evil version of his dad, he gets to do the same with his mom next issue! The previous two issues won me over because Jon still seemed mostly the same. This issue casts a dark pall over that in a way that will be hard to fix.
Corrina: Jon: “Hi, Mom and Dad, I’m fine, despite traveling with Crazy Grandpa and having bad stuff happen.”
Superman & Lois: “Did Jor-El rant and rave and try to turn you evil and take you to places he wanted to rule and urged you to help?”
Jon: “Um, not exactly. I managed to ditch him but then I spent five years as a prisoner of a completely unhinged evil version of you, Dad. He emotionally and physically abused me.”
Superman & Lois: …….
Jon: “But I’m totally fine and well-adjusted now.”
Superman & Lois:…..
Jon: “I also found an evil version of you, Mom.”
Lois: “Worst issue ever.”
Jon: “I’m still totally sane and super-well-adjusted though.”
Superman:::shakes fist:: “”BENDIS!!!”
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.