Bryan Hitch’s time traveling epic continues this week and Superman is frustrated as hell with the entire process. He wants his wife and son back dammit, but much more is at stake than he could possibly imagine.
Superman #19 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
“SUPERMAN REBORN” part three! In the penultimate chapter of this tale the life of Superman’s son hangs in the balance—and the Man of Steel faces the truth about his life!
Why does this book matter?
Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi continue from Action Comics #975 (seriously don’t read this without reading that issue) as they continue Superman and Lois’ search for their son Jon. DC Comics has been developing their Mr. Oz storyline ever so slightly over the last year, but it appears we’re going to get a heavier dose with this latest arc. That’s exciting!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That would be a nightmare.
With a quick four pages Gleason and Tomasi recap where we left off in Action Comics #975 reminding us who the other Clark Kent is and what he’s up to. From there, Superman and Lois must play a dimension bending game (complete with a fun board game that looks like a Superman version of Chutes and Ladders!) that feels very much like a plot Mister Mxyzptlk would enact. There’s some classic vibes in this story, partly because it’s so trippy, which makes the narrative wacky and fun.
The stakes are quite high though and Jon gets some key scenes as he drifts not knowing where he is or how to find his family. Tomasi and Gleason lay the family unity story element on pretty thick though it’s nice to see the conflict wrapped up here. It’s refreshing that DC isn’t stretching out this conflict over multiple issues as the timing feels just right here. There are also some interesting clues as to where we’re going with the Multiverse and Jon encounters something interesting too.
Gleason’s art is fantastic throughout this volume with layouts and panels that twist and turn things. The boardgame mentioned above is creative and detailed helping to convey the stakes, but also some key elements in the Superman/Lois relationship. Mister Mxyzptlk goes full freaky too with panels where he looks like the Grinch (see below) or like some demented gnome. Superman may not be able to use his strength to beat a reality twisting villain like Mister Mxyzptlk, but Gleason does a good job making their battle feel like a fight.
It’s the Grinch!
It can’t be perfect can it?
I was hoping for Superman to use his wits–that seems to be a go-to to beat Mister Mxyzptlk in the past–but the story goes a bit too cute for its own good. Instead, the power of love and family wins the day and I don’t know if that’s all that satisfying. That’s partly because it requires characters to use their inner willpower, something you can see or really explain in a complicated way, which reduces the conclusion in its effectiveness.
Not a huge deal, but the cover is quite misleading. It seems to suggest Mr. Oz will appear or at the very least major answers or developments with that story, which this issue doesn’t.
Is It Good?
Superman’s most trippy villain gets a great issue due to the weird and wacky art in this issue. Story beats also wrap up from Action Comics #975 quite well. I can’t say the conflict was conquered in a clever way, but what do you expect from this family oriented Superman?