‘Is this the end of Superman’ asks the cover blurb? It’s a double-edged sword of a question – for several issues we’ve had Super Son Jon Kent convinced that his dad is doomed to die soon. The question could also relate to the series as this is the final issue of the latest run, thought there’s nothing in this issue to tell you that. I only know because it’s not in DC’s July solicitations, replaced by a new Superman #1 starring Jon.
To be honest, this issue may as well have been billed as a Superman Jr comic – the supposed star of the title barely appears. Heck, if could have been titled Thakrammite Adventures, as the first six pages are nothing but the annoying aliens this book has been focusing on for the previous two issues, flashing back to things it feels like we’ve already seen.
A monster possessed the obnoxious leader of the planet, allowing it to go on to absorb billions of souls. By the beginning of this issue, that also includes Superman, leaving Jon to fight alone.
He’s not wrong – Superman breaks free from the alien hive mind, and helps Jon fine tune his heat vision.
It’s safe to say that Jon saves the day, leading his Super-Dad to make a big statement.
Oh behave, I’m a big fan of the original Jon Kent of Super Sons fame, and while I still hate that he was prematurely aged up, have nothing against the teen version. The kid has done well. But better than the one and only, original Superman? Right here, for instance, he manages the heat vision trick only due to his father’s advice, born of decades of experience.
So next month, Superman is Jon Kent. Superman will still be around in Action Comics, but from the way the story has been going, and the Future State specials, it seems he’s going to be stuck on Warworld awhile. I don’t doubt the new Superman creative team of Tom Taylor and John Timms will produce some great stories, and make Jon 2.0 a more interesting character, but this ‘Jon is better’ business leaves a sour taste.
Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s script is decent, but the framing device of Superman writing what is basically a love letter to his kid is a tad cringe. Scott Godlewski provides knockout art as Jon, and finally Clark, confront the Shadowbreed, there’s excitement as the massive monster struggles to maintain its planetary power base. I especially like the imaginative panel shapes. And it’s all powerfully coloured by Gabe Eltaeb, and proficiently lettered by Dave Sharpe.
I’ve not been impressed by the Tales of Metropolis back-up that has ‘justified’ a higher price point these last few issues. It’s been decent visually, thanks to artist Sami Basra and colourist Ulises Arreola, but Sean Lewis’s story has been muddled, as if every third page is missing. And that feeling continues in the conclusion, as Jimmy Olsen’s gang of minor Metropolis heroes – and Steel – finally defeat the alien threat of Projectress.
Previous instalment have been ten pages or something. This finale is 16pp, and boy, does it feel it. It goes on and on and on, as someone who is basically a femme fatale hypnotist stymies a gang of metahumans and enhanced fighters. Steel is a genius, a self-made Man of Steel who filled in for Superman in Metropolis for months, even going on to join the Justice League of America, and what does he do? Stand around.
While it’s nice of DC to remind us that characters such as Loose Cannon, Bibbo and the female Gangbuster exist – and there’s a bonus for TV Supergirl fans with, I think, the comic book debut of Acrata – all this serial has done is make the lot of them seem useless. Back to limbo, I think.
A cover by upcoming Superman Jr artist John Timms completes the package. It’s not the best composition, with both heroes’ faces angled away from the reader, and Jon’s ugly super-suit stealing the attention when we should be awed and freaked out by the Shadowbreed.
This volume of Superman was begun to showcase Brian Michael Bendis’s take on the character, and likely should have ended when he left – the last few months have felt like marking time before the Next Big Thing (DC hopes) arrives. I’ve had enough of relaunches, I hope that when Tom Taylor and Timms finish their story, and Clark reclaims his title, we return to legacy numbering and stay there. Superman is the world’s longest-running superhero success – that’s something not to shade, but to celebrate.