Following the events of “Superman Reborn,” writer/artist Patrick Gleason and writer Peter J. Tomasi continue to explore the biology of Jonathan Kent in Superman #20. This time, Superman gets some unwanted help from Batman. Although Superman has a fancy new-ish outfit after the New 52 Superman and the old Superman merged, Batman gets most of the action in the first part of “Black Dawn.”
Superman #20 (DC Comics)
Here’s the official synopsis for the issue:
As the smoke clears the Kents are faced with leaving Hamilton to go back to Metropolis, but someone or something doesn’t want them to leave! Batman and Robin discover something is mysteriously wrong with the son of Superman—he’s losing his powers!
Tomasi’s wide-eyed, hopelessly optimistic style fits so well with Superman, and the opening pages of #20 are a perfect example of his work. We see Supes fly over Hamilton, in a beautiful two-page spread that opens the book after a short scene with Jon. It quickly gets us in the mood, announcing that Superman is whole again and ready to save the world from whatever troubles come his way.
Gleason provides some of his best work in this issue, particularly on page four, when a love-struck Clark stops for a second to take in the beauty of his life. John Kalisz’s colors and Mick Gray’s inks help bring these scenes to life. You really feel like the Kents are a genuine family.
All the peace is broken up by a storm and a visit from Batman and Damian. Somehow, Batman finds time to stop by to visit Hamilton, in between all the action in Detective Comics, Batman and Justice League of America. Bats has some surprising news for Clark and Lois: even though Jon should have incredible powers by now, something is keeping him from his full potential. He has an idea for what might be causing this, but the investigation starts off on the wrong foot.
At that point of the book, you are probably already forgetting about those brightly-lit pages at the beginning and wondering if you picked up Batman by mistake. The focus turns away from Superman and we’re suddenly in the middle of a Batman case that just happens to involve Superman. It’s a mixed way to start the new status quo for Superman, as he’s reduced to being a supporting character and wondering where Batman’s mind is going.
Then again, this is only the first part of a new story arc and it feels that way. It’s setting up another adventure where Batman and Superman are going to need each others’ backs.