Superman #3 focuses on the bigger picture, showing just how chaotic the world has become as it has entered the Phantom Zone. Ivan Reis gets to show off a bit with inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert as Superman and the Justice League tackle a variety of threats. Credit has to go to Reis here as a storyteller — there’s no downtime in the plot and every character understandably has their serious/worried faces on so it’s a testament to Reis’ ability as an artist to keep that from getting stale visually. Alex Sinclair’s colors help in conveying the chaos. Even in the opening sequence, the accident at STAR Labs is given a dizzying array of blues, purples, and greens that really sells the madness at hand.
Brian Michael Bendis has Superman flying around Earth doing whatever he can to help reign in the chaos and find a solution for getting Earth out of the Phantom Zone. This takes him from confronting Livewire at STAR Labs to stopping looting at a local electronics store to meeting up with Ray Palmer and a collection of the world’s top geniuses. It effectively captures the chaos of a world torn from its own orbit. Bendis is even able to weave in a hilarious bit involving Adam Strange showing up to where Earth should be, but isn’t.
Like Superman, however, readers are unlikely to find an anchor in the chaos. Superman #3 bounces frantically, and none of the scenes really leave much of an impression when the issue is done. In the eventual trade, this may read better – a kind of transition from one act to another, but on its own, it feels a bit shallow. There’s a nice sequence involving Rogol Zaar, who is confronting and assembling an army from the Phantom Zone’s denizens. It’s all set-up for the showdown in future issues, but it’s paced well and some of the more powerful images come from this scene.
Is it good?
Spectacular artwork buoys a frustratingly erratic script. Superman #3 effectively captures the chaos of a planet being moved and Kal’s frantic journey to stop it, but as a single issue, it moves so quickly from scene to scene that nothing quite sticks. The main cover promises a fight that doesn’t happen here, and though the issue ultimately builds to a showdown between Superman and Zaar’s newly assembled forces, the issue is too crowded to leave much of an impact.