Superman #26 is a pleasant enough fill-in issue, but after the dramatic “Black Dawn” storyline, it’s disappointing. Before Superman, Lois and Jonathan Kent head out on a road trip in the next issue, writer Michael Moreci stands in for Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason to tell a small-scope story about Superman’s ongoing efforts to be a better parent in “Brain vs. Brawn.”
Here’s the official synopsis from DC Comics:
Superman and Superboy’s teamwork is off and Clark is at a loss for how to fix it. Maybe an old trick Pa pulled when Clark was a boy might help get the father-son team get back on the right track!
This is yet another issue where Superman worries about being an inadequate parent for Jon. While they’re fighting together, they have struggled to stay on the same page and Supes assumes that Jon is using his brawn, not his brain. He seeks guidance from Lois, and realizes that there was a lesson in his memory banks from Pa Kent that can come in handy years later. Just as Pa Kent realized before, Superman has to let Jon make his own mistakes and learn from them to become a better person.
The art in the issue is by Scott Godlewski (Copperhead, The Lost Boys), who is going to be taking over art duties for the next Superman arc, “Road Trip.” It’s a good preview of how he’ll handle Superman, finding a middle ground between Gleason’s stylized look and the serious tone Doug Mahnke brought in “Black Dawn.”
Godlewski’s scenes in Smallville are gorgeous, with wonderful colors from Hi-Fi. If you thought things got too dark in “Black Dawn,” this issue will brighten your day. The design for the random alien baddies Superman and Superboy fight are also fun.
“Brain vs. Brawn” is a nice short story, but doesn’t really push anything forward. Superman has been insecure when it comes to parenting for a while, constantly comparing himself to his Pa. He learned a great deal about his son in “Black Dawn” and the single lesson in this issue probably didn’t need 22 pages to explain. Sometimes it might be better for DC to just delay an issue instead of pushing out a fill-in.