On another world. Superman and Superboy face an ancient, undying evil that’s possessing the populace.
Clark and Jon decide to tackle the situation on two fronts – Senior will warn the locals to beware the Shadowbreed, while Junior accompanies the local prince to a lab where, he says, he can produce a useful bomb.
Of course, things aren’t as straightforward as Superman and Son would wish…
Gosh, this feels like a long comic. That could be good, but I’m not a huge fan of stories where it’s all one tone. This is all space saga with pretty anonymous aliens, but I want to know what’s happening, meanwhile, with Lois. She is referred to, though not named, by Jon…
… but he then goes on and on about how great his Dad is, and Lois is never brought up again.
But that’s writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson for you – all in on fathers and sons, less interested, at least in this serial, in other relationships.
And it’s not like there isn’t room, this comic has 30 pages of story, but eight of them go to a back-up strip. I’d love to have seen how things are going at the Daily Planet, maybe have a page or two setting up a future story… but that’s not how things are these days, it’s all ‘write for the trade’. Have one idea and don’t deviate.
We have a theme – fathers and sons – but how about some subplots? Maybe some humour?
To be fair, what Kennedy Johnson does focus on is handled well – Superman’s feelings towards his son (‘Your heartbeat is my favourite sound, pal’) and vice versa, and the threat of the Shadowbreed. And Jon has a new trick, one that’s helpfully explained a page or so after he tries it, which is useful as it’s not at all obvious, from the art, what happened.
I like that Kennedy Johnson’s Superman admits things can surprise him, despite everything he’s seen. Put that together with the nuanced alien language noted last issue, and his tendency to expect the best in folk, and I can just about accept his not seeing straight through one character’s deceit here. Me, I pegged them as a wrong ’un very quickly.
There must have been a deadline crunch this time as unlike last month, Scott Godlewski doesn’t handle all the illustrations: he manages the excellent layouts, but veteran DC inker Norm Rapmund steps in for near half the story. It’s really tough to see the join, Rapmund knows what he’s doing. There’s one page in which the solo Goldewski’s Jon looks as pointy faced as his alien companion, and a Superman head is repeated over a few panels, but, overall this is a nice-looking story, with the ethereal Shadowbreed constituents properly eerie. Colourist Gabe Eltaeb and letterer Dave Sharpe, as ever, make solid contributions.
The Tales of Metropolis back-up strip once again sees the villainous Projectress make monkeys out of minor Metropolis metas. The heroes in question are Loose Cannon and a new, female – and thoroughly annoying – Gangbuster. Sean Lewis writes a decent enough instalment but after three months, really needs to get this thing moving – who is Projectress, why is she messing about in Metropolis? Have all these C-lister heroes really got nothing better to do than sit around a bar in Spandex, waiting for something to happen?
The art by illustrator Sami Basri and colourist Ulises Arreola looks good, and seeing Metropolis made me happy – mind, Bibbo sure has a swanky joint these days. Dave Sharpe letters once more, bringing out the beats of the script.
Neither story in the issue has anything approaching a recap, the creators assume they have us for the ride. Bad idea.
Since last month, DC have announced that this run is ending, and the star of the new Superman comic will be Jon, while Clark sticks around in Action Comics. Tom Taylor will write, with John Timms drawing Jon’s book, which may be why he’s been on cover duty of late. This isn’t his best work, with Superman and Superboy assailed by monster hands and cover furniture. Timms colours the image, and might usefully have chosen background hues other than red and blue, to help the similarly toned Superman and Jr pop.
All told, Superman #31 is a competent comic, but it doesn’t thrill me as it should.