Superman #19 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ivan Reis, Penciller; Joe Prado, Danny Miki, Julio Ferreira, Oclair Albert, Inkers; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Many people were skeptical when Brian Michael Bendis revealed his intention to expose Superman’s secret identity to the world (for the second time in five years), but a few issues in it’s clear this is going to be a very different story – for the better. In fact, it seems like this was the story Bendis was meant to tell on the franchise and it’s kicked his run into high gear in a way I think a lot of people were waiting for.
The opening pages are Bendis indulging his strength for dialogue at length – it’s entirely Clark, Lois, Perry, and Jimmy discussing the reveal and what it means for the Daily Planet. If any character has benefitted from Bendis’ time on the title, it’s Perry White, who has gone from a cranky stock character to a sharp and sarcastic curmudgeon that reminds me a bit of Jack Kirby. There’s also a great scene involving former gossip columnist Trish Q, who has a powerful reaction to Superman’s reveal and proves just how much he’s affected the people in Metropolis.
Now that his secret is off his chest, Superman has a lot of unanswered questions – but it’s also clear he feels freer than he has in years. A scene where he flies over Metropolis as his internal monologue runs is probably the best scene getting into his head in a main-line book in a while.
The secondary plot, involving the setup of the United Planets, is strong but not quite as powerful as the main plot. Representatives from Thanagar, Tamaran, and the Dominators are planning to set up shop on a destroyed planet, only to be interrupted by a megalomanic Mongul who wants to tear down everything they’re building. His dialogue is so over the top to almost run over the line into parody, but Ivan Reis’ art is excellent and Superman’s dialogue as he faces off against him is entertaining. It feels like Bendis’ Superman is genuinely different since he unmasked, and that’s a sign that Bendis’ take on the character is finding its footing. I don’t know if this new status quo will stick permanently, but I can’t wait to see where Bendis takes it.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.