The situations that Superman has faced under the pen of Brian Michael Bendis have been far different from anything he’s faced before. This trend continues in Superman #12, as Clark has his largest family reunion potentially ever. As he continues to deal with the loss of his son’s formative years as a child, Clark is able to meet back up with his cousin Kara, his dog Krypto, and his father, Jor-El. Zod also partakes in the opening battle, which makes this potentially the most Kryptonians in one area since the planet was destroyed.
Speaking of the planet’s destruction, Rogol Zaar is involved in this fight as well. Befitting the title “The Unity Saga,” he has joined up with a dozen different space empires alongside Zod all united to destroy Jor-El once and for all. The first half of the issue is entirely this space fight between the House of El and the rest of the universe, with Clark’s stream of consciousness inner monologue as narration over absolutely beautiful splash pages by Reis.
The second half of the issue properly advances the plot, with fun character interactions between everyone, before splitting the family into two groups for this crossover with Supergirl. Kara and Krypto take the teenage Jon with them to go on adventures in the Supergirl book, while Clark presses his father for answers. This temporary setup looks to be very fun, as Kara and Jon interacting has a lot of potential for good character moments for both of them.
Overall, this issue was stronger than the last few, as the plot started moving forward in the second half. It dealt a lot with reunions that had been several months coming, and doesn’t feel like it’s entirely spinning its wheels anymore. That being said, it still feels like Bendis is postponing questions that the readers have been waiting months for the answers to. It’s frustrating to have to wait another month for what will likely be another issue where Jor-El ignores every question Clark directly asks him. When the plot moves forward the book is compelling, but it frequently doesn’t move forward within each issue.
A lot of the frustration by the stagnant story is mitigated by the art. Bendis uses Ivan Reis’ skills to absolute perfection, with gorgeous splash pages and double page spreads throughout. While the fight scenes are mostly spectacle with very little plot progression, it is absolutely gorgeous spectacle. Prado and Albert’s inks alongside Sinclair’s colors complement the art so well to deliver an incredible, breathtaking final product where every single page could be hung up on a wall. It’s not just the fights either. Every character’s facial expressions and body language are so well-defined, the emotions don’t need any dialogue to be conveyed properly. For all the flaws in the writing and pacing, the art is absolutely perfect from start to end.
Overall, this issue is a necessary step forward for the plot after a bit too long without any major progression, but it doesn’t move far enough forward to make up for the stagnation. The progression it does is promising overall, though. The art continues to be the highlight of this series. For readers who have been enjoying this book, this issue is a fairly strong one, but it is essentially more of the same.