The finale for “Black Dawn” in Superman #25 is so big it requires a few extra pages. Superman and Manchester Black fight for the soul of Jonathan Kent in an epic battle of the minds. Does the finale of this dark, creepy Superman story live up to the previous five issues? Thankfully, the answer is yes.
Writer: Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Here’s the completely spoiler-free synopsis from DC Comics:
“BLACK DAWN” part six! The extra-sized finale to “Black Dawn” reveals the villain tearing the Super-Family apart and destroying everything the Man of Steel holds dear!
That doesn’t tell you anything and there’s very little to prepare you for the first image of the issue. It opens with an impressively detailed splash page by Doug Mahnke, showing a possessed Superboy flying right in your face, with Superman reflected in those cold, black eyes. Right away, we see that Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi aren’t kidding around. For the next few pages, the fight between Superman and his own son gets intense. After that opening page, we get a two-page spread of the possessed Superboy punching his dad.
With all the action going on in the issue, things do get a little out of hand. Batman’s fighting random Elite members, while Manchester Black is cutting up Frankensteins. The writers do get things back on track though once the focus turns to Superman and Jon.
The real story of a father and son coming to terms with their own imperfections is never lost. As we saw in previous issues, Manchester Black used Jon’s perfect view of his father to twist his mind. Can Superman show his son that it’s OK for even the Man of Steel not to be perfect? Superman also has to prove that Manchester Black is wrong – killing is not the proper way to serve justice.
“Black Dawn” has been an exciting epic, pushing Superman in a dark direction, but never forgetting that there’s hope at the end of any tunnel. Tomasi and Gleason have shown here that you can go dark in a Superman story without ever forgetting the DNA of the character. Manchester Black proves to be a great foil for Big Blue in his effort to connect with and understand his son.
On the art front, #25 is also a mix of work from Mahnke and Gleason, with Gleason drawing the second half of the book. The transition isn’t as jarring as it was in the previous parts of the story, but I still would have loved to see this entire book drawn by Mahnke. His realistic, detailed style added weight to this story and I hope we see more of him on Superman.
At times, it’s felt as if Superman took a back seat in the first 25 issues of Superman after Rebirth started so Jonathan could become a well-rounded character. But Jonathan has brought a new dimension to the Superman character, and Tomasi and Gleason have done a great job building the new Superboy.