The Psi War comes to an end in Superman #24, but was it worth the wait?
At the end of the last issue, Superman had submitted to the mind games of the villainous Psycho Pirate. Not a single corner of Superman’s brain was left unchecked and it appeared as though Clark had met his match.
The battle we have been waiting for has finally arrived: Hector Hammond, The H.I.V.E. Queen, and Lois Lane all assist Superman in bringing down the deranged Psycho Pirate. These pages have an immense amount of detail and color that has been expanding with each issue of this arc. The first few pages, in particular, are spectacular. The golden snakes that surround Psycho Pirate are a fitting contrast to Lois Lane’s blue aura. The scene offers powerful imagery to start the issue off, and the artwork remains the staple of the issue as a whole.
Although Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira expand and grow as artists throughout the “Psi War” arc, part of this issue’s success comes from Mike Johnson’s writing style. Johnson’s work is a departure from the Scott Lobdell story structure, and although Johnson used Lobdell’s setting as a foundation, he was able to make it something very unique. It was easy to be told that Superman had a weakness to psionic beings, but Johnson was able demonstrate it in a number of intuitive and creative ways. The ending of this arc is satisfying, however, the repercussions have yet to be developed and it appears as though we aren’t going to see them for a long time. Johnson was able to take a memorable and haunting look at the internal horrors that plague the Man of Steel.
Seeing the evolution of Superman throughout “Psi War” was fantastic. It gave the impression that Superman wasn’t as strong as one would think, not to mention the inner struggle and turmoil that he must withstand from day to day. It is easier and far more impressive to see this progression throughout the arc by reading the issues back to back.
The arc, as a whole, was both hit and miss. There were issues that really pushed the story forward, and ones that led to more questions than answers. As with a complicated story, questions are soon to follow, but not enough of them were answered. At the end of the arc we were left knowing very little about the H.I.V.E. Queen, Psycho Pirate, Brainiac, or any of their whereabouts. It’s the lead up to the “Krypton Returns” that abruptly forces the story to end with a questionable conclusion. As a result, the reader will feel a bit dissatisfied.
Clark is going to be thrown from one crossover directly into another and it may hurt the pacing of the book as the next arc begins. “Krypton Returns” will see the various members of the House of El return to each others’ sides in order to stop H’El, the Kryptonian menace we haven’t seen since “H’El on Earth”. The series does not show signs of slowing down, but that may not be for everyone.
Although the final issue of “Psi War” was able to satisfy on an action based level, it faltered as a satisfying conclusion. There are a few stand out issues in the arc, as well as gorgeously rendered pages, but the story refrains from keeping the same aptitude and structure consistently between the creative team swaps. Action Comics #24 is the highlight of the series, and should be read regardless of how the arc is received.