Superman #15 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ivan Reis, Penciller; Oclair Albert, Joe Prado, Inkers; Brandon Peterson, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Guest Artists; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Bye, Crazy Evil Grandpa!
Ray: I’ve been hard on Superman at times, finding it overly decompressed, heavily driven by the villain Rogol Zaar, and jumbled in plot sometimes. But a little over a year into it, it wraps up its first major story, in Superman #15, that hits all the right notes and makes me think that Bendis’ run on the Superman books – likely just beginning, the way he tends to work – might turn into something special. Rogol Zaar is off the table, trapped in stasis on Thanagar and barely referred to in this issue after the first few pages. Good. But Superman has a lot on his mind – namely, the offer to his now-teenage son to join the Legion of Super-Heroes and head to the future. Superman’s reunion with Adam Strange has some nice emotion to it and the two family men have a powerful conversation. The Legion, meanwhile, has stepped on the moment of the founding of the United Planets and this results in some hilarious dialogue. I’m not sure if Bendis is the perfect fit for the Legion, but he knows how to write quirky teen superheroes,.
It’s the fates of two other rogues that drives the issue, though, as the storylines of Jor-El and Zod are brought to a close for now – one with more finality than the other. Much like Thomas Wayne, Jor-El has treaded the line between being an overprotective father and a violent maniac, and it’s Jor-El who gets his comeuppance a few months ahead of schedule. Bendis writes him out in a way that both makes total sense and makes it unlikely a future writer will revisit this idea, and while he drops another bomb on the way out, I will say the character’s final scene had some real emotional punch to it. Zod, meanwhile, has been written as more of a gray character over this run, and Bendis doubles down on this with the two former arch-enemies making a clean break and Zod becoming the founder of a new Kryptonian colony. Villain redemption arcs rarely stick, but it’ll be interesting if Bendis can make him a compelling wild card for this run instead of a villain. It feels like we’re seeing real movement here, and the dialogue is Bendis at his best. Next up, the return of the Super-Sons!
Corrina: Ray’s excited because he believes he might get some great stories now.
I’ll wait and see. We just had a year of a plot that, basically, only seemed there to reintroduce the Legion of Super-Heroes to the DCU. In the end, in Superman #15, older Jor-El is a dead end. There was no real emotional confrontation between Jor-El and either his son or grandson, no confrontation at all. Rogol Zaar is a also dead-end (and never became interesting), and there was no emotional cartharsis for our heroes over his actions in destroying Krypton and then the genocide at committed against the Bottle City of Kandor at the beginning of this run. (Sorry, Kandor, we forgot you already!)
It read as if the creatives behind this comic decided to simply cut those losses with Superman #15. I admit, the storyline never worked but this just lets it waft away, hopefully forgotten. So much for a year of half of Bendis’ beginning work on Superman. And, I guess, rewriting the destruction of Krypton and changing the entire Superman mythos besides? Perhaps it won’t be referenced again.
So, after all these unsatisfying issues, there’s a hint of something enjoyable on the horizon. But I’ll believe it when I read it.
I won’t lie, I did have fun looking over Reis’ great splash pages checking out all the new LSH designs, which look cool. (Though Saturn Girl’s crush on Jon is weird…) It’s a beautiful looking comic.
I hope the stories in the future measure up to that art.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.