[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
A bold new chapter for the greatest superhero of all time begins here as the superstar team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis begin their run on the all-new SUPERMAN! The fallout from the Man of Steel miniseries has Clark Kent looking at the world through new eyes…with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth. His first job? Getting the planet back out of the Phantom Zone!
Now that The Man of Steel miniseries has finished, Brian Michael Bendis begins his run on Superman’s regular books with this issue. Fans have been quite happy with the writing of both titles since the Rebirth relaunch and some have been very vocally displeased that Bendis was displacing the current writers.
Thus, Bendis has a tough act to follow in the case of Superman, which has had a stellar run under the authorship of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who conveyed a refreshing portrayal of Superman as family man. So, is Bendis capable of filling their shoes? Well, it seems that he’s off to a decent start.
Lois and Jon are absent, but Bendis makes it clear that they aren’t forgotten. Many fans were worried that Bendis would dissolve Clark and Lois’ marriage and retcon Jon away. And their seeming disappearance from Clark’s life in the opening issues of The Man of Steel did little to alleviate this.
However, it seems that their absence will be temporary – even if we don’t know how long it will last yet. Clark spends much of the issue thinking of them and actively looking to regain contact with them.
The scale of the series seems to have jumped to a greater magnitude. Instead of fighting threats around Hamilton County or Metropolis, we see Clark singlehandedly fighting off an alien invasion – and only as a brief side activity while continuing his search for his family.
Bendis neatly captures how busy a Superman’s life must be by virtue of showing Clark trying to carry on a conversation with Martian Manhunter, but continually being interrupted with crises to take care of.
Plus, we get to see a new Fortress of Solitude. The old one was destroyed in Superman’s battle with Rogal Zaar in The Man of Steel. Interestingly enough, doesn’t go with the traditional places like the Arctic, Antarctica, or in a mountain range. This time, he places it in the Bermuda Triangle.
I also like that we get to see Clark working in the Daily Planet, which we really only see in passing these days. Hopefully, we will see more of this often neglected side of Clark’s life.
As the issue closes, Superman makes the discovery that the entire Earth has somehow been transported into the Phantom Zone. If that weren’t bad enough, Superman was only able to defeat Rogal Zaar by trapping him in the Zone. Now the entire Earth is in there with him.
Superman’s conversation with Martian Manhunter seems wrong to me. J’onn is suggesting that Clark take a leadership role on Earth to lead it into the future. But it starts to sound like J’onn is maybe advocating that Superman set himself up as ruler of the world. This sounds very ominous, and quite out of character for the Martian Manhunter.
On the other hand, could this maybe be an impostor? Or some outside force making J’onn talk this way? But it’s too early to tell if this is ominous foreshadowing or sloppy characterization yet.
I have to add that I find the art fantastic, and in many places reminiscent of some of the Superman stories I read as a kid back in the seventies and eighties.
Bendis has the unenviable job of proving himself to a number of skeptical fans who would have been content to stick with the previous creative team. But I believe that this issue shows that he the potential is there for his tenure to be in the same league as other great writers over Superman’s history.