Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1 – Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Writer; Brandon Peterson, Will Conrad, Max Raynor, Miguel Mendonca, Artists; Lee Loughridge, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Sometimes, the greatest stories of all come when we allow heroes to truly get out of their comfort zones, and it’s hard to think of a better example of this than the Warworld Saga. Superman not only leaves Earth, he does so to depose the mad dictator Mongul and liberate the slave empire of Warworld once and for all—and he does it without his powers, spending most of the run as a gladiator and prisoner building a resistance among the forgotten of Warworld. It’s hard to think of something that resembles a classic Superman story less—and yet it feels like the most Superman story to be told in continuity in years. And just as he approaches the finish line, he’s hit with one final betrayal.
The Phaelossian warrior Kryl-Ux has been Superman’s most loyal ally through this, so what could bring him to betray the resistance now? If you think it doesn’t make sense, that’s because there are many layers to this betrayal. Now, Superman is forced to either give up the weapon he fought to obtain and lay down and die, or watch two children die. It’s no surprise what he’s willing to do—but it is a surprise how things play out from there, with several devastating sacrifices and a final battle that delivers in both dramatic action and powerful emotions. And that’s just the main character—the Authority has been on the fringes of this story, but each of them has a powerful story to conclude here as well.
Midnighter and Apollo haven’t shared much screentime for a while, since Apollo has been under Mongul’s control, but their reunion here will have people standing up and cheering. On the other hand, Lightspeed and OMAC have had the most tragic relationship here, and their storyarc ends beautifully but not without a good amount of pain. While the story does end decisively, it also leads to the rise of potentially the most intriguing new villain Superman has faced in years, and it’s likely Johnson will be playing this out for a while. This story took a lot of beats from Johnson’s brilliant The Last God, but the last chapter reminds us that it is a Superman story through and through, with a stunning last few pages that make me hope he’s writing Superman for a long time to come.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.