At first glance, it looks like Superman is zooming down a mountain range on this cover. On closer inspection it becomes apparent that the Man of Steel is fighting a bunch of ice monsters. If you saw last week’s Justice League: Endless Winter #1 or this week’s Flash #767 you’ll know that these are creations of a new enemy known as the Frost King.
At least he’s new to the heroes of today. Back in the 13th century, the chilling figure fought the defenders of that age’s people. But he wasn’t always Man’s enemy; once upon a time he was simply a father trying to protect his child.
Today, the Frost King has re-emerged after centuries of slumber and unleashed an apocalyptic storm upon the planet. The Justice League members are looking for him, while saving people from his ravenous ice wolves and the sheer cold.
Superman can stop the marauding creatures, but hydra like, they multiply as he puts them down. Needing a breather – and likely wishing to check up on his parents – he stops off at Smallville.
How lovely is that? Even the harshest critic of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s’ Doomsday Clock series would surely agree that bringing Ma and Pa Kent back into Superman’s life was a great move. The sheer heart they bring to any issue they’re in is worth the price of admission. When Superman, known as a beacon of hope, is feeling a little overwhelmed, Martha and Jonathan are there to give him an injection of self-belief.
I’m enjoying Ron Marz and Andy Lanning’s Endless Winter story lots. Narrated by Lois Lane, this breezy chapter advances the overall story while giving us a sweet Superman tale. Like Iris West in this week’s Flash, and the Kents here, she has total faith in her man to do the job. And Clark has faith in Lois when she says he doesn’t need to take her to his Fortress of Solitude for protection. His parents are just as firm that they don’t need to go to his secret base – as someone who remembers that one time in the Eighties he took all his family and friends there to keep them safe, I’m very relieved.
We don’t see much of former Green Arrow artist Phil Hester at DC these days – he popped up recently on a DC Digital First Teen Titans. comic, but that was as a writer. Here he’s pencilling, with old partner Ande Parks on inks, and Hi-Fi on colours, and the result is rather excellent. There’s a directness to Hester’s compositions that works with the shots of Superman zooming at the ice beasties, and there’s a standout action shot of one monster giving us the full King Kong on the Eiffel Tower. That image of Superman releasing his heat vision, above, is wonderfully intense, and Krypto, sleeping on his cape in the back of a Kent Farm panel, is adorable. Parks’ confident blacks add power to proceedings, while Hi-Fi’s varied blues ensure all that ice doesn’t get monotonous.
Hester and co don’t handle all the art, with illustrator Marco Santucci and colourist Arif Prianto ensuring the flashback sequence is visually distinct from the present day action. They convey a fine sense of drama with moments such as the fearsome bear leaping through the ice.
Handling fonts medieval and modern, letterers Troy Peteri and Dave Sharpe keep it clean.
That great cover by Francis Manapul – I love the way he evokes the Northern Lights with his colour work – benefits from the excellent trade dress of DC designer Kenny Lopez. The smaller, straightened DC colophon, balanced by the issue number in a matching Rotadraw-style icy circle, reminds me of both Silver and Bronze Age designs.
With a cliffhanger mystery connected to Simon Stagg’s annoying son Sebastian, the endless Winter Event has me for the continuation in Aquaman next week.