Superman #12 review

Like some kind of space cavalry, Kara the Supergirl and Krypto the Superdog have arrived to help Superman, Superboy and Jor-El take on Rogol Zaar, General Zod, sundry Phantom Zone escapees and an attacking space armada. A spark of optimism hits Superman.

Amid the fierce battle, there’s yet time for sweetness.

And when the heroes make a strategic retreat, all living members of the El family are united in love… with one exception.As they ponder what to do next, Supergirl informs her cousin that she needs a super-sidebar.

That’s a bit of an offnote in a generally great issue: is Supergirl implying she expects – wants? – Superman to kill Rogol Zaar? Writer Brian Michael Bendis really does well by Kara, making her so feared and respected that alien races flee at the mere sight of her (mind, they’re back a few pages later – maybe it’s a miscommunication with penciller Ivan Reis, perhaps it’s to do with something that happens in this week’s Supergirl, which I’ve yet to read – watch for a review).

The Superman Family cuddle is just gorgeous, the expressions on the faces, the body language – it’s lovely work from Reis, inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert (there are no page breakdowns, so imagine they’re now a blended being) and colourist Alex Sinclair. Given no one, unsurprisingly, invites intermittent lunatic Jor-El into the circle, it’s weird that later in the issue (earlier in the story timeline) we see this exchange between Zod and Clark.

Superman still gives his back-from-the-presumed-dead father the benefit of the doubt when he’s accused of shadiness? After everything he knows Jor-El to have done?

Mind, Krypto still loves him…

What’s up with Supergirl’s priorities? Yes, Gandelo needs bringing to justice, but isn’t the Zaar/Zod situation more pressing? Again, maybe Kara’s own book will shed light on this.

Random moments of joy: Phantom Zoner Jax-Ur’s opinion of Zor-El on page one; the inclusion of Krypto’s classic logo; actually, every single moment with that gorgeous power pooch; Kara’s remark as she meets older-than-expected Jon inside Jor’s ship; Superman’s constant grinning at working alongside the super-side of his family; and a very intriguing next issue blurb.

I give Bendis kudos for not having people constantly chatting in space – Superman and Zod manage it when they’re in their special super-speed place, otherwise it’s off the table. This does, though, mean that Rogol Zaar gets not a single line, reinforcing his position as perhaps the least imposing Big Deal villain ever. The supposed killer of Krypton has less villainous charisma than Koko, Brainiac’s pet monkey.

Ah well, you can’t have everything, and if, as I suspect and hope, Zaar’s claims ultimately prove a pack of lies, no one will care.

For now, it’s thanks to Bendis and co for another cracking issue.

Now, I’d better go and catch up with Supergirl…

10 thoughts on “Superman #12 review

  1. You were right to read this issue before Supergirl, Mart. Unfortunately, that one’s a mess, Rosenkrantz & Guildensterning this story with some other character bits, but basically unsatisfying overall.

    But this issue’s a delight, for all the reasons you mention. And yes, I loved Jax-Ur’s assessment of Jor-El on page 1. But one thing in that caught my eye: “…he escaped the death of his own planet and the obligation of raising his children.” Um….CHILDREN? That seems like a pretty significant plural to me.

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    1. Yeah, we’ll see. Is there another Kryptonian out there somewhere? Is Rogol Zaar himself somehow Clark’s brother? Did Jor-El have another child somewhere else on Krypton? Or on another planet — was Jor-El a Deadbeat Space-Dad? I’m not sure… but I trust Bendis, and hope he’ll make a good story out of whatever this hint turns out to be.

      That said: I’ve come to the realization that I enjoy Superman more the less it’s about Krypton. So I can’t say I’m crazy-enthused about this. But Bendis hasn’t disappointed me yet.

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  2. Since Jurgens and company already tarnished Jor-El why not go there too? If it works we’ll have good, popular characters out of it and if it’s a klinker there’s always the Cir-El option. Jurgens also gave them an out with the real Booster Gold establishing this is all happening because of an artificially maintained altered timeline and awesome Jor-El is still out there in a timeline that just needs a fix it done…

    Oh and are you sure Kara wants Jon out of the way so Clark can kill? The books connected undeniably badly (an accidental homage to when DC editorial offices were designed to work against each other rather than with) but I got the impression Kara was taking Jon away from Clark and Jor-El having it out no holds barred. Jon might be well aware this Jor-El is bat shit crazy but his dad and grandpa having it out seems like something Kara would protect him from, especially as he’d still be tween Jon in her heart at this point…

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    1. I agree with LuridPenguin — I think what Supergirl thinks Jon doesn’t need to see is his dad having a forceful, angry argument with his grandpa. (And also, Superman might be able to make his case a bit more directly if Jon isn’t around.)

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    2. It’s weird, as the years have passed I’ve started to feel sorry for Cir-El… it wasn’t her fault, and she was terribly self-sacrificing. OK, the name is still ruddy awful but I’m actually nostalgic!

      I like your reading of Kara’s comments much more than mine. Let’s go with that!

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  3. Amongst the discussion of the lack of editorial oversight between Superman 12 and Supergirl 31 I’m surprised that no-one seems to have commented on Kara not only saying different things in each book but wearing different costumes as well.

    (And reinforcing how the rebirth outfit is far superior to the outer space costume)

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    1. With all the costumes Supergirl Classic had when I was younger, I think I don’t even register Supergirl costumes (unless there’s a crotch shield. That was just eye offending)…

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