Superman faces off against the H.I.V.E. Queen, Hector Hammond, and the citizens of Metropolis in the first issue of the Psionic War crossover.
The Psionic War has begun in Superman #23. The citizens of Metropolis are forced into submission by both the H.I.V.E. Queen and Hector Hammond. Superman is faced with a decision, stop the Queen and let Hammond take over Metropolis, or stop Hammond and let the Queen prepare for Braniac’s return.
The past few months of Superman have been uneven. There are moments of genius, as well as moments of confusion. It’s unclear as to which direction the arc is taking but it is noticeable that every previous action will have consequence in the Psionic War. The Superman Annual #2 issue goes heavily into backstory that sets the stage for the arc and the results are positive. Superman is again hammered by his weakness to telepathy and it has brought about some very interesting scenarios involving the Man of Steel and the denizens of Metropolis. Scott Lobdell set the stage for an impressive culmination of psionic enemies to tangle with the House of El and it will leave the reader excited for what’s to come in the preceding issues.
Although Lobdell set the stage, he wasn’t present in the first act. Mike Johnson takes over in the writing department for Superman #23. Known for his spectacular work on the Supergirl series, he exceeds in bringing the raw and dominant nature of Supergirl into this Superman comic.
The banter, action sequences, and overall sense of the comic resemble some of his strongest work by focusing on emotional weaknesses that made Supergirl a powerful read. It is a pleasure to see him dip his pen into the Superman series.
The comic also delivers an impressive introduction to a new villain in the Superman series, and a powerhouse in the Psionic War. The villain is given a tease in the first few pages but after all the action takes place, the reader completely forgets about it and it makes the end of the comic much more memorable.
The artwork is overall positive but definitely far from perfect. There is a particular imbalance that the reader will notice from page to page. Not only have the artists shifted once more, but they may have shifted during the drawing process of this issue.
Eddy Barrows is listed for the thumbnails and Jesus Merino is listed for the art. Despite this, they seem to go back and forth. There are moments where it shines and the dynamic stands out, especially in scenes with the H.I.V.E. Queen, but it ultimately hampers the comic from excelling. All of the artwork problems from the last issue are still present and despite using this creative union of sharing the best parts of each other’s work, they end up missing the mark.
We need Kenneth Rocafort back as soon as possible.
Although there are a number of positives with the birth of the Psionic War storyline, the uneven pacing of the artwork leaves the reader questioning the overall creative management of the Superman series. There are enough surprises to keep the reader engaged and interested in the continuation of the arc, but the artwork has to live up to the hype the story is currently pushing forward.