Hey, it’s an extra-length anniversary issue! They used to be quite the thing, so it’s nice to see DC reviving the tradition for the 25th chapter of Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman run.
And we get a new antagonist for the occasion. Not that Synmar and Superman meet this issue – what we see of the character is all set-up. Actually, ‘character’ is the wrong word, as ‘Synmar’ is the name of the planet from which their champion, The Synmar Utopica, comes.
‘Utopica’ – that’s annoying, it’s really difficult for the mind not to ‘correct’ it to ‘Utopia’. Or worse, ‘tapioca’. I’m all for new villains being tried, but they need catchy, memorable names. I had to check how to spell ‘Rogol Zaar’ for months before it stuck. I know it’s old fashioned and corny, but just go with ‘Something-Man’ or ‘Basher’ or whatever. He may have powers, but ‘the Synmar Utopica’ ain’t gonna fly. In fact, ‘the Synmar Utopica’ is a pain to type, and ugly to look at – let’s just call him TSU from now on, eh?
Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy meeting Eisno Alkor and his bosses, the very chatty ruling council of Synmar. Think cosmic coffee klatch. Seriously, letterer Dave Sharpe deserves a bonus. We meet the council just as Krypton is exploding, watching events via their, er, space fireplace?
While they neither rescue nor destroy baby Kal-El, they do watch him grow up, and decide to create their own Superman, just in case an Earth-based Kryptonian becomes a threat. Soldier Eisno Alkor is trained and tweaked until he’s finally unveiled as TSU at what looks to be Synmar’s version of the Eurovision Song Contest.
In the present day, Daily Star science editor Lana Lang is visiting Clark Kent to talk about the recent revelation that he’s Superman.
While back on Synmar, something happens that looks set to send TSU on a collision course with the Man of Steel. It may be a misunderstanding, but it’s probably a stitch-up – I don’t trust President Dreti, who seems incapable of giving a straight answer.
While some of the exchanges are entertaining – we Earthlings really are a shocking bunch, apparently – there’s just too much dialogue. Do we really need eight named aliens, all near-identical bar the four-eyed president? And I’m not at all keen on the Ambush Bug-style facial markings that have most Synmars looking like a bunch of weeping Willies.
I do like the depth Bendis gives to teenage Lana Lang in a Smallville flashback, and that a modern day dialogue snippet reinserts Superman’s time as Superboy into what passes for canon. Plus, we see that Lana’s stint as Superwoman hasn’t been wiped out, and there are hints that her powers may return. And the Synmar set’s description of Superman as a ‘light god’ goes nicely with this story’s title, ‘Mythological’.
Ivan Reis pencils once more, and does an especially great job with the Earth scenes, bringing a real tenderness to the Clark and Lana conversation. The Synmar-set moments look suitably alien, thanks to sterling work by Reis, inkers Julio Ferreira and Danny Miki, and colourist Alex Sinclair. The latter earns his keep with the montage sequences alone (one of which features a chap who can’t stop cameoing, even though he’s dead), muting the colours with real skill.
The only time I can’t ‘read’ the art is when Lana, Clark having popped out to an emergency, looks at one of his old photo albums. What the heck is she thinking? Is she regretful that she never took up Clark’s offer of a date? Is she unimpressed with the binding? Has she got toothache?
And what’s with the intergalactic leeks?
Hopefully all will be revealed in time. I’d prefer a big anniversary issue to be a timeless done-in-one tale, but this is an entertaining issue with lots to like. That includes the film poster style cover from Reis, Sinclair and inker Joe Prado, which hints at trouble ahead for Jimmy Olsen.
So, how was it for you?