Superman #4 review

Now this is what I want from a Superman comic. A shining hero. Colourful villains. Good friends. And a familiar backdrop that can still throw up surprises.

The issue starts in the apartment of Jimmy Olsen, where we see just who the new girlfriend he mentioned a few issues back is.

It’s Siobhan, the Silver Banshee. When we last saw a Silver Banshee it was Siobhan Smythe, who fought the family curse and wound up hosting Supergirl, back in the New 52, and I’m hoping this is the same version of the character – it’d be great to see her resume her friendship with Supergirl and she, Jimmy and Kara become a little friendship group. Goodness knows, Supergirl needs some pals – every time she loses a series, a whole supporting cast vanishes, rarely to be heard of again. But Superman does mention that she’s a recovering supervillain so it could be Siobhan McDougal, the original Silver Banshee before continuity changes. Maybe in the latest continuity they’ve merged. Whatever, things are looking up for this Siobhan – she’s in control of her powers, she’s enjoying dating Jimmy, and if danger comes calling she’s tough enough to deal with it.

Well, that’s the theory.

The horrible little man is Dr Pharma, who was behind the horrific – well, more horrific – transformation of the Parasite in previous issues. What does he, and his pill-headed heavies, the brilliantly named Pharmhands, want with Siobhan?

Meanwhile at Stryker’s Island prison, Lex Luthor is giving the world his Deadshot.

Superman isn’t impressed that Lex is amusing himself at the expense of his fellow inmates, having been persuaded to use the resources of Lexcorp – rebranded Supercorp – to try and do more good deeds than usual. And Lex reminds him of what they’ve achieved in the short time they’ve been remotely teaming up.

But Superman stands/floats firm, insisting that if he’s to give Lex his trust, Lex has to give him the full story on his dealings with Dr Pharm and his aide Graft. And Lex tells a tale, a tale of an idealistic young genius with lustrous red hair who wanted only to help the citizens of Metropolis. Learning that the city’s homeless were vanishing by the dozen, he tracked down the culprits.

Impressive. But Superman still has qualms, causing Lex to give him the location of the villains’ lab. And it’s a part of Metropolis that’s new to him. There he learns the answer to the question: what do you get if you cross the Phantom Zone projector with the Silver Banshee? The answer’s pretty freaky.

So yes, this issue is very much my cup of tea; new villain Dr Pharm – Graft, his brother, isn’t making much of an impression, yet – has a delightfully evil vibe thanks both to Williamson’s dialogue and artist Jamal Campbell’s imaginative design. I’m keen to learn what his endgame is, and I hope we find out how he’s managed to stay off Superman’s radar for so long. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lex has been manipulating his rival mad scientist for years.

Speaking of Lex, I loved seeing his adventures as a world-be crime fighter in Metropolis. I’m as dubious as is Superman – wouldn’t there be clippings in the Daily Planet file? And surely he’d lost his hair before leaving Smallville for the big city? Still, I do like his heroic togs, as drawn by Nick Dragotta, who handles the flashback sequence, which is coloured by Frank Martin (Campbell’s art is full colour). Dragotta brings his usual energy to proceedings, and while the vibe is different to Campbell’s, the two styles don’t jar.

One detail I love in Campbell’s present day sequences is that whenever Lex is seen in jail, he has books with him – he barely even looks up when Superman arrives. Lex is a learner. I also like the the Atom-style super-suit Superman wears in his one-panel adventure with Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi… I’d love to see this untold story play out. And it’s no surprise that Campbell’s Silver Banshee is a winner.

Letterer Ariana Maher has fun throughout the issue, especially when Jimmy starts to tell Lois a local legend.

I like Campbell’s colourful cover, though I wish DC would go back to the Superman logo we’ve had since the Eighties, the Golden, Silver and Bronze Age classic revised by the great Todd Klein. Also, the shininess is too much.

It’s a minor thing. This is the best issue since the debut and I thoroughly recommend if.

2 thoughts on “Superman #4 review

    1. Yep, comics today have too many big panels and splash panels…does almost every final page have to be full page? And what’s with two pages for a credits spread?


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