An excellent penultimate issue.
Man of Steel has effectively shaken up Superman’s life. His Fortress of Solitude is wrecked, his son is potentially being shipped off, and he’s got a 2-ton enemy beating his butt much like Doomsday did once upon a time. Oh, and now the cover to issue #5 homages the big death that rocked the world in the 90s. Can Superman catch a break in this penultimate issue?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Beaten by Rogol Zaar, his city burning at the hands of an unknown arsonist and the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon drawing closer to revelation-even Superman feels powerless against all that stands before him.
Why does this matter?
Aside from this being Bendis’ opening salvo for his Superman takeover, this is also beautifully rendered by Adam Hughes and Jason Fabok, two of the best comic book artists in the industry. Oh, and you also get the customary Bendis dialogue that we all know and love.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Superman seriously struggling to get the muscle-clad Zaar off Earth. It doesn’t end well. Bendis is putting Superman through the ringer and in these opening pages, you really do wonder if he’ll be able to win the day. This cuts to scenes of Clark and Lois talking to, presumably, Clark’s father which breaks up the action well. Much of the rest of the issue is about the supporting cast, be it Supergirl or Chief Moore. They are both badass women in a town literally on fire. Bendis writes these women in a believable way that makes them heroic, but also human. You’ll want to see more of them in Bendis’s stories for sure.
Other characters pop up too, like the Justice League, who add significant weight to the narrative. This is a story about Superman nearly being beaten to death so of course they’d be called in. Bendis does a good job with their dialogue, too. They have distinct voices helping to give the characters more color via their dialogue.
The art in this issue is nothing less than spectacular. Adam Hughes draws much of the issue and ends on a double page splash that’s breathtaking. Superman is a hero who can allow artists to go places other heroes just can’t and it’s a wonderful moment. The issue opens on a much darker tone with fantastic shadows that cast a certain mood of gloom. Superman can be defeated and Hughes makes you know it from the imagery. Supergirl is a delight as her luminous hair casts a hopeful look. The Justice League seem to have a more real-world color to them that are subdued. Flash, who is usually a bright red, is much more toned down here. Jason Fabok rounds out the scenes with Clark and his family delivering on a detailed and realistic look. While Hughes seems to cast angelic vibes, Fabok grounds things in reality. That helps create a sense of great importance to the negotiation.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The scenes with Clark and his family are hard to swallow. In a book where a superhuman can push the moon out of orbit, I find it hard to believe this family unit would be cool with sending their child away. It appears they are going in that direction and it seems to be a plot convenience more than anything else.
My only other gripe is how Superman isn’t the star of this book. That’s fine with such great writing, but it’s called Man of Steel after all.
Is it good?
I’m surprised at how fast Bendis hit the ground running, but with such excellent artists backing him up how could he fail? The dialogue in this book is well written to the point where you may wonder where Bendis has been all this time. The Justice League sound right. It’s the kind of book that sets up the concluding chapter while delivering on subplots and supporting characters, which doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. Dare I say it, Man of Steel makes Superman feel special and new.