Superman #28 review

Superman has followed the Synmar Utopica to his homeworld. The stranger wants the Man of Steel there because…

… I really have no idea. It’s four months since the world of Synmar was introduced, a planet whose people are the Synmar, and whose champion is the aforementioned Synmar Utopica. The people jabber on in oddly constructed sentences about beings as ‘light’, and to call their conversations opaque would be putting it mildly.

I’ve never been one for alien dialects and speech patterns – just give me a few initial glyphs, then translate everything in <pointy brackets>.

As alien races go, the Synmar seem more silly than threatening, saying thing like…

They lack gravitas.

Here’s where the Synmar types explain it all.

Got that? If so, please explain it to me… what was the Synmar Utopica’s plan?

Similarly, I don’t get what’s happening here.

Are the Synmar communicating through telepathic migraine?

This is the final issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman run and it does have plenty of the elements I’ve enjoyed most during his tenure. There’s the Caped Kryptonian trying to understand the point of view of others.

There’s the emphasis on Clark as a member of the Super-Family. And best of all, there’s the sheer warmth of his relationship with the people of Metropolis. Here’s the opening of the final scene.

I love this. It’s Superman as Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, without the creepy, ever-growing camera lenses; the nicest guy in the neighbourhood, wanting to make you feel good, yet utterly sincere.

A final issue of Superman interacting with the people of Metropolis would likely have been rather wonderful. Superman hanging out with his pals at the Daily Planet in the run-up to Christmas. Visiting the firehouse to remember his recently murdered friend Melody. Delivering presents to whatever the modern equivalent of an orphanage is. Having dinner at Bibbo’s with Lois, Jimmy, Perry and Lana…

Lana Lang is a presence in this issue, podcasting over Superman’s trials on Synmar. And making herself sound like a pretty rubbish journalist.

Lois’s book, Lana tells us, contains ‘The Truth About Superman’ – Bendis’ unified theory of the Man of Steel – and it boils down to this: Superman is a living solar battery, absorbing strength from our belief in him. I can see that, in a poetic way – he’s fighting for the little guy because we’re worth it. He believes in us and we believe in him, spurring him on to use his powers to the best of his ability. Perhaps that’s why Bendis has titled this last arc, Mythological. Otherwise, I got nothing!

On the one hand, the device of Lana commentating as Superman, depowered on an orange sun world, struggles on, is less than ideal – this is Bendis’ final issue and I want to spend time in the head of his stellar Superman. On the other, it keeps those supremely annoying Synmar folk quiet.

Something I won’t miss, as Bendis takes his leave, is the random, pointless, jumping about in time; pretty much every issue of his Superman and Action Comics has leapt around, and it happens again here. Happily, it’s nowhere near as confusing here as it’s been at times, but I wish this pointless device would be retired.

Something I definitely want to see more of is Bendis’s Supergirl – she’s always such fun under him.

Mind, just as Lois forgets that her hubby partly gets his powers from Earth’s lighter-than-Krypton gravity, so Kara seems to have forgotten who she snogged back in her own series – that was Prince Ryand’r, not whoever this Price Zerep is.

The art, by penciller Ivan Reis, inker Danny Miki and colourist Alex Sinclair, is sumptuous. Superman and Lois look as handsome as heck, the Synmar are terrifically weird, the debuting United Planet (sic) Brigade seem formidable and the backgrounds and effects are ever splendid. My favourite panels, though, feature that guitar-playing neighbour, Rona – Reis and Miki’s work here is reminiscent of the classic Gene Colan/Tom Palmer partnership. Dave Sharpe’s letters are, as ever, excellent throughout.

The cover by Reis, inker Joe Prado and Sinclair is a little too much in the cape department – it’s a tad shroudy – but the terribly romantic image sets up the final page, in which Superman and Lois dance to the music of Rona. It’s a lovely note for Bendis to end on.

I was wary about Brian Michael Bendis, a writer whose Marvel mannerisms I couldn’t see suiting the Man of Steel, taking over the Superman books. But while I’ve not enjoyed everything he’s done – Rogol Zaar is an addition the Superman Legend could well do without, and ageing up Jon Kent was a bad move – overall I’ve enjoyed the Bendis era hugely. I look forward to seeing where he shows up next.

9 thoughts on “Superman #28 review

  1. The excerpt from Lois’ book made no damn sense. Lois’ mother died when she was a kid in this continuity and, LOL, Lois is definitely not Sam & Ella’s only daughter. Makes you wonder what’s the point of the editor in it.

    Also, the book itself doesn’t justifie Lois moving to Chicago nor all the mystery surrounding it.

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    1. You’re so right. While I’m not sure Lois is still have Latina, a la New 52, we’ve definitely had no reports of her mother’s death being exaggerated.

      I gave up trying to make sense of that Chicago nonsense, I think it’s an example of Bendis changing his mind mid-path/forgetting to finish something. I agree that stronger editing hands are needed

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  2. Gee whiz, martingray1, I came here hoping *you* could explain Synmar Utopica’s pan to *me*. 🙂 Oh, well… at least I know I’m not the only reader befuddled by the whole thing.

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  3. I’m guessing but I think this finale arc was a combo of ‘going out like it went on instead of resetting to default’ and showing us that you can’t create your own Superman. He’s unique and damn fine good. I did like that Lois sees her hubbins like an extrovert. I’m one and I need to be fed emotionally by being around folks. The twist with Clark is he is fed by good people needing him to do good things.

    And that end with the musical request? I choked up. THAT’S how a multi year comic book run should end!

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    1. What I want to know is why Lois is constantly writing books about her marriage. I’d rather Superman be judged on his own actions than filtered through her lens in book-length form.

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  4. Great review.
    I had trouble as well with the Synmar or the rEason the Utopica lost his mind. I do take a crack at it, trying to use Lois’ piece as a foil to Utopica’s actions. But who knows if I’m right.

    As you say, the best part of Bendis’ run has been the personal moments, the character interactions, and less the huge fighting scenes, I would have loved a tour through Metropolis issue as you suggest. His Supergirl is really charming and true to form. Would have loved more of that too. But that ending scene was touching.

    I’m sad to see the run end for just that reason. Bendis made the supporting cast important and interesting again.

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  5. The new chap says in an interview he’s going to follow Bendis’s lead on the supporting cast… and we’re getting Bibbo back, so it may be good. I’m less interested in the idea of a Death of Superman-style epic… can’t we just enjoy stories within a nice status quo for awhile, as we had with Tomasi, Gleason and Jurgens?

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