This is Superman patrolling in the Silver Age.
This is Superman patrolling today.
Isn‘t that glorious? The image comes courtesy of illustrator Kevin Maguire and colourist Paul Mounts, the idea comes from the mind of Brian Bendis. Different angles on Superman’s powers and personality are becoming his speciality, and we’re certainly getting an example of the latter this time as Superman makes a big decision.
Bendis also likes to tease, so we don’t actually have it verbalised this issue, but the cover illo and copy pretty much give it away.
The issue opens with Superman, Earth’s representative on the newly formed United Planets, stopping a literal trade war.
Returning home, he finds wife Lois rather frazzled.
As Lois advises Clark to leave this one to her rather than rush to find Luthor and, almost certainly, a trap, Clark goes on patrol. Which is where we came in.
After sharing that ‘everything is normal… relatively’, Superman let’s Lois talk; she knows he’s itching to go into action because he has a lot on his mind, to externalise frustrations he isn’t facing.
He tells Lois that he’s wondering if Superman is a luxury they can afford, given what they know is coming. Enigmatic. But the question of what Clark means goes on the backburner as he deals with some unfinished business￼￼. S.T.A.R. Labs, of late, have been involved with some shady doings under the auspices of the mysterious Dr Glory. She wants to monetise the newly discovered Multiverse’s multiverse. On finding their most secret base, does Superman send out a booming call to the secret scientists to un-secretly surrender? Does he simply smash his way in and arrest everyone?
Not Superman 2019 – the quiet man with unparalleled power simply hovers above them. Job done, and Clark Kent, reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, has the story￼.
In his other guise, he has something to discuss with his cousin, Kara. But first, a visit to a distant world, where a simple craftsman oversees the raising of New Krypton.
And finally, Superman begins his conversation with Supergirl.
I suppose he means that as soon as he reveals his identity, people will begin asking Supergirl, more than any other hero, why she’s still hiding in plain sight.
And at the end of this scene, were shown an eavesdropper…
While I’m a tad dubious about Superman revealing that he’s Clark Kent to the world, I trust Bendis to entertain me as this thread develops. And whatever the current creatives intend, it’s not going to prove permanent – there’s always a Fifth Dimensional imp sitting on a cloud, just out of frame. The fact that he has Superman go straight to his cousin shows he’s thinking things through properly.
And good on editors Jessica Chen, Mike Cotton and Brian Cunningham for >ahem< forgetting to put the intrusive, off-putting Year of the Villain banner on the cover, despite Luthor￼’s ‘gift’ to Lois taking up a few pages. And fascinating pages they are, I’ve never seen the good guys decide not to rush into a villain’s obvious trap, and I like it… just don’t ask how this fits into the timeline of the Justice League series, where Superman is boots-deep in the multiversal nonsense-threat that’s going on at the same time Lex plays Santa Claus.
While I love Superman prompting a mass surrender with his mere presence, I could have done without the new evil scientist getting away – with his super-speed the Man of Steel could easily have plugged the Glory hole.
And once more Bendis gives us a super￼-fun Supergirl, sassy, sharp and wonderfully, wittily wary around Zod, whose latest look I love. The general’s reference to Ursa having ideas that ‘harken back to the second age of Krypton’s landfalls of silver’ just screams Silver Age Krypton, and having that come back would make me really happy. Now we just need the supposedly dead Kandorians to come back (they jumped into the Survival Zone as their bottle was smashed, they super shrank… it’s easy) and populate New Krypton, which I’d love to see christened Rokyn, to match old Legion and Superman continuity. And I’m really excited at the prospect of the reveal of the finished New Krypton – a poster spread in an annual would do just fine!
Kevin Maguire is the perfect penciller for this issue, his facility for faces and brilliance with body language is just what’s needed in a story as emotionally charged as this; I especially like his extremely animated Lois, and his aliens are delightful. Paul Mounts provides the icing on top of the artistic cake with his colours, lighting up the universe – just look at that opening spread, it’s gobsmacking – and modelling the characters, giving them heft. Handling Bendis’s dialogue, letterer Dave Sharpe has fun with fancy fonts and default design alike.
The cover by penciller Ivan Reis, inker Joe Prado and colourist Alex Sinclair is a happy affair, I just wish we had something by Maguire and Mounts to match the mood inside.
All in all, this is a fascinating, fun instalment of the never-ending battle. What did you make to it?