[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Patrick Gleason, Jaime Mendoza, Mick Gray, Joe Prado
The issue begins with a flashback to the end of a space battle, where a young alien girl has just seen her parents die. Also on that alien ship is Manchester Black, who saves the survivors and promises to teach them how to survive in “the cold, dark world.”
Back in the present, we find that the ship’s crew are the same aliens that have been posing as citizens of Hamilton County and the little girl is Kathy Cobb. Her grandfather, Branden Cobb is dissatisfied with recent events and demands to speak with Black, but is refused and ordered to return to his farm with Kathy.
Meanwhile, Clark is with Lois at the hospital, where she is recovering from her horrific injury from last issue. Clark is questioning his judgement, but Lois asserts her deep trust in him and sends him off to locate Jon.
Superman returns to the Cobb farm, where he finds tunnels underneath the farmhouse that are part of the network he previously discovered running under Hamilton County. But before he can follow them, he is confronted by Jon and Manchester Black.
Defeating Black proves to be a difficult prospect, but Superman gets added assistance by freeing Batman, Robin, and the Frankenstein’s from their captivity.
But then Black turns the tables by using his telepathic powers to pit against Superman the one foe that he cannot harm.
Manchester Black and Superman clashes are essentially a conflict of ideologies. Black exemplifies the philosophy of the end justifying the means. He will do anything, not matter how despicable to achieve his goals. Superman is Black’s diametrical opposite in that he will never do anything evil, even in the name of a greater good.
However, this time Black is making the conflict personal. Now Black is threatening what Clark holds dearest: his family. When pushed to this extreme, will Clark betray his ideals to protect Lois and Jon? Or can he find some way to keep them safe while staying true to himself?
I also like the bit of humour when Batman joins the battle and asks, “Bad guy in black?” to receive the response, “As always,” from Superman. This exchange is especially amusing considering Batman himself wears black (and typically fights colourful villains).
I was hoping for an update on Lois’ condition after apparently losing a leg in last issue’s battle, but although we see her regaining consciousness, we do not find out anything about her current condition. Hopefully the Fortress of Solitude’s Kryptonian medical technology or one of the DCU’s heroes with healing powers can fix her up good as new. On the other hand, this could open up story possibilities as she, Clark, and Jon learn to cope with her disability.
Another great issue in an amazing series. The Kents’ time in Hamilton County has gone to Hell in a way that will try each of them to their very souls. It will be fascinating to see how they can recover from the scars this story will leave them.