Superman faces off against Parasite once again, but can he contain the creature once more?
Clark Kent has been through two consecutive arcs that branched out into the other Superman family titles. “Psi-War” had him pinned to a wall as psionic beings took advantage of his weakness to telepathy. Then, “Krypton Returns” put Superman through the hardship of letting his father’s planet die once more. In the wake of all the tragedy that has stricken Kal-El, an old nemesis—Parasite—rears his hideous head.
Scott Lobdell continues where he left “Psi-War” off and expands on the story he has been tediously working on for the majority of the last year. He has brought an interesting dynamic to this series, but it’s easy to see that the ideas are beginning to fade. Despite this, Lobdell is able to write very cinematic scenes in Superman #26. There are moments where the reader will pause to admire not only the monstrous Parasite, but also the magnificence of Superman’s abilities. This could not have been possible without Ken Lashley’s artwork.
Lashley draws the Parasite in a very sinister manner. Instead of using the disgusting mass of flesh that Aaron Kuder used in the Villain’s month issue, Lashley draws Parasite in a dark and terrifying way. The comic bleeds action and it pays off, for the most part. It’s stunning to see large splash pages displaying Superman’s frost breath on Parasite’s body. The artwork in this book is positive, but it has a few issues.
There is a bit of inconsistency with the artwork in Superman #26. There are moments where the reader will question whether the same artist was working on the entire book. The beginning of the issue seems interesting and drawn with a sort of Kenneth Rocafort-esque panel division. Midway through the comic, though, it appears as if the artwork was redone in a powerful way. Eventually, it reverts back to the earlier art style, which appears rushed. By the end of the issue, it’s hard to discern whether the book was redrawn a few times, and a few glances between the way Superman is drawn in certain panels proves that.
Scott Lobdell is arguably beating “Psi-War” into the ground, and not intending to stop anytime soon. It’s disappointing to see no aftermath of “Krypton Returns”, but instead a revisit ideas concerning psionic powers with implications that seem far from being resolved. It’s as if “Krypton Returns” never happened, and it’s hard to imagine why Lobdell chose to ignore that, seeing as he’d (supposedly) been building to that arc since “H’El on Earth”. Psionic beings were interesting, but it’s apparent that Lobdell has said all he has to say about them, and any further lingering will prove dangerous for the title.
Parasite feels wrong. The Villains Month issue for Parasite (Superman #23.4) was very creative and well handled by Aaron Kuder on both writing and artwork. He gave the Parasite a personality that at one point, made the reader feel sorry for the character, before loathing him. Kuder gave Parasite a soul that resonated beautifully and inspired the true meaning of being a villain. Lobdell writes the Parasite as a monstrous oaf, devoid of intelligent thinking whatsoever. No longer do we have the despicably charming villain that was introduced in his one-shot, but we’re also now given a mindless brute with ill-comedic, forced one-liners that haven’t been seen since the mid 90s.
Despite the few things that Superman #26 does right, Lodbell does much wrong. With inconsistency in both writing and artwork, Superman is hard to read this month. In the coming weeks, we’ll see more of Parasite, but hopefully he will be given a greater attention; the kind of attention that Superman needs at this very moment.