Brian Michael Bendis’s take on Superman across multiple series has been a rocky road. This current arc is the same deal: plenty of good and bad. The overall pacing is tangled, yet the individual issues are decently written. Although, #6 has other problems.
Jor-El’s characterization is muddled. He took Jon out to space to apparently help the kid discover his powers and teach him about life with his powers. But when granddad talks to Jon, he admits he’s lost faith in science and optimism. So…why did he take Jon out in the first place? I guess that means he lost faith since he grabbed Jon–but when was that? Where is this coming from? What’s supposed to be a nerve-wracking moment has no momentum.
Let’s not forget the overall pacing is bizarre for this arc. Instead of having a dedicated arc to follow Jon’s adventures in “real time,” we’re given it in this parceled, fractured manner. There’s story material for at least two arcs crammed into one. Alas, there’s not a ton wrong with both plots, but it’s a mess when they’re shoved up against each other. This rushed, rough pacing is especially surprising from a writer like Bendis who usually savors the long game and has even spent whole issues focused on one scene (AHEM Ultimate Spider-Man #13).
That being said, this issue abounds with wonderful character beats. Bendis’s careful work on Clark is illustrated when Superman rockets off in anger over his father’s betrayal. He wants to let off steam and smash asteroids–but he calms down and instead settles for stopping a nearby villain. Bendis humanizes Clark in masterful ways that could make all the people that say “Ugh, Superman is just so boring” eat their words. Lois’s reaction to the situation and Jon’s comforting of her is priceless.
Ivan Reis and Brandon Peterson’s work is strikingly beautiful. Their versatility manifests on splash pages of cosmic fisticuffs to intimate close-ups.