Superman #30 review

It’s just a perfect day. Lois, Clark and Jon Kent play crazy golf in the park. It’s such fun, but the peace is interrupted by a summons from space. The voice of an old friend of Superman is calling for help. Superman and Superboy take off, leaving Lois for a solo swinging session.

On the planet Thakramm, there are signs that something is wrong.

The king is dead, and what he’s left behind are mysteries.

‘The one who fell’ is the second story arc from new writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and it feels a lot like the previous one: Superman and Superboy in space, a new alien race, musings on the father/son relationship. While the latter aspect is very well done, as you’ll see from the pages above, once again Lois is left behind, as if the writer isn’t interested in where the wife and mother fits in. Perhaps that’s leading somewhere – if Johnson is setting up a situation which has Clark removed for a while, as seems to be the case, there’ll be plenty of room for Lois and Jon stuff.

I hope I’m wrong that, as in Future State, Superman is heading for an extended sojourn on Warworld – I’m already a bit tired of having such a focus on teenage Jon, with Superman continually defined by their relationship.

Which isn’t to say Johnson doesn’t do a good job, Jon is a good partner here, and far from the annoying adolescent so often seem in comics. But the Jon I want is the Super-Sons version, whose latest digital flashback adventure with Damian Wayne continues and can be found in print this very week. I want Superman’s series to star the Man of Steel in solo adventures.

While my eyes glaze over at unfamiliar lumpy aliens with similar names, I did like the character quirk of the Thakkramites that sees them consider Superman and Superboy homely milksop servants, despite their proven feats. And the intelligence – tactical and emotional – displayed by Superman is appreciated. I think Johnson could give us a very good run, so long as the Man of Steel is front and centre, and it’s not all unfamiliar extraterrestrials – bring on the classic villains!

The art by Scott Godlewski is a treat, expansive and dynamic, with some lovely, elegant flight sequences. There’s a lot of character on display, even in the background folk.

I like Godlewski’s designs for the alien world a lot, the environment and monsters are tiptop, and the action is excellent – look at the power in this panel.

And the colouring by Gabe Eltaeb is what I want in a Superman series, bright and breezy. The only note I’d give, as backseat editor, would be to cease with the shiny noses, it’s like everyone has been dipping their head into the water bowl.

Dave Sharpe’s letters are as on-form as ever, hitting the registers required by the script.

The Tales of Metropolis back-up has Jimmy Olsen and a gang of Metropolis heroes on the alert after new villains Projectress and Deadstream announced themselves last issue. Gathered at the Daily Planet for a briefing by the red-headed reporter are the likes of Steel, Gangbuster and that Nineties blue Hulk-type whose name I forget. Oh, Loose Cannon, that’s him, thank you Twitter pal CoriMarie21.

Star of the show, though, is Ambush Bug. I never knew he was considered a Metropolis hero, but I never knew Bibbo wrote for the Daily Planet until someone decided that was the case last month. Anyway, he moves the story forward, encountering Deadstream, but Jim comes across as dim. And I really can’t see heroes as proactive as Steel and Gangbuster sitting around like refugees from a mothers’ meeting.

‘The Insect Noir’ is a decent enough time passer from writer Sean Lewis, artist Sami Basri, colourist Ulises Arreola and that man Sharpe again, but I’d rather have a thinner, cheaper comic book.

So that’s a pretty good main strip and an OK back-up. As for the cover, I’m usually a big fan of John Timms’ designs, but this one is just too busy, it lacks focus and impact. I’m struggling to come up with a close to this review because Superman #30 didn’t stir me, yet I don’t regret buying it. It features a bevy of talented creators, but I fear we’re not on the same wavelength so far as what makes a good Superman story is concerned.

Opinions please!

6 thoughts on “Superman #30 review

  1. I’ll read your reviews but I’m done with the books for now. The fact that Johnson doesn’t seem to like Superman starring in stories is enough for me to opt out. He also has less of the motional backbone Bendis gave Clark. The art, while serviceable, was too much of what I think of as Generic DC Default. When an artist DC chooses an artist with no distinct style, this what it gets.

    And that back up was just foolish, lacking any charm Giffen ever gave the Bug…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could see myself packing in for a while if the stories don’t move away from teen Jon – there are so many old stories I’ve not read, and favourites to revisit.

    I do think that once Ambush Bug became super-metal he doesn’t work in straighter stories.


  3. I was never a regular reader of Superman, but got on board when Bendis was announced for the title, so I read a few months of it and then the whole Bendis run, which I enjoyed a great deal. Now, I’m bored. It’s fine, but who really needs it?

    The Bendis run didn’t necessarily tie everything up well, but he introduced stuff with a lot of promise – the fire chief, Red Cloud, the Invisible Mafia, the new people at the planet, the mystery with Lois (which never really paid off, but was intriguing). There was just something fascinating about all of it. (I admit his Superman and Action runs blur together for me, though I know they had different settings.)

    So far this run of Superman feels like it could have been released as part of those daily digital firsts.

    Maybe it will improve. But I’m pretty sure Bendis started out with a bang right out of the gate.

    Why does this backup story exist? I guess because DC has concluded the extra $1 more than covers the cost of producing the extra 8-10 pages, so it’s extra profit, making readers buy something they didn’t actually want. Superman would not lose a single reader if they dumped the backup, and Superman doesn’t gain a single reader by including it.

    But I do think the extra price puts more pressure on the new creative team, because realistically, it’s a Superman story now selling for $4.99, with something or other in the back of almost zero value. So the book better be $1.00 better than the Bendis run. I think so far it is not at all better, except to the Bendis-haters.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen to everything, that’s a great point about the Superman story feeling like a ‘read it and forget it’ digital book, it feels like it’s there, but I find it hard to care. And while I’d like to see Jimmy, Bibbo and a few others in Superman, I’d like them interacting with the big guy in the main strip.

      You’re right about the creative team being under more pressure. I really liked the lead in Joker #1, found the back-up pretty poor, and have jumped off with the $1 price increase as of #2.

      Liked by 1 person

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