[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Scott Hanna
“SUICIDE PLANET” part one! Far away in a distant solar system, a world stands on the brink of destruction, much as Krypton did so many years ago. As Superman and son venture off into space to help, an unexpected adversary stops our heroes dead in their tracks: these people wish to die.
This issue begins a new story arc, “The Last Days”, by guest writer James Robinson. Normally, I’d be disappointed that Tomasi and Gleason were taking a break from the writing duties, but Robinson’s stories are always a treat – and this one isn’t an exception.
The story opens with Superman and Superboy at the Fortress of Solitude. Jon’s reaction to being in the Fortress is extremely relatable. Any Superman fan would love finding themselves with free run of the Fortress. It would be like having your own personal Disneyland.
However, the occasion of their visit to the Fortress is a more sombre one – the anniversary of Krypton’s destruction and Superman intends on observing the occasion with Jon. Clark is pleased that Jon feels an affinity with his Kryptonian heritage despite Jon’s having very limited experience of his Kryptonian roots.
Rather coincidentally, the Fortress’ computer informs Clark of another planet facing a plight very similar to Krypton’s. Superman prepares to leap to the rescue, but Jon wants to join him. This leads to a classical moment of “Please, Dad, Please” and “Okay, but don’t tell your mother.” Some things are universal to all families – even Superman’s.
There is a difference though. This planet’s rulers are fully aware that their planet is about to be destroyed. The problem is that they are extremely religious and are unwilling to fight against their god’s will for their world. When Superman seems unwilling to leave them to their fate, they declare that Superman and Superboy should die with them.
Father and son find themselves weakened and at the mercy of an angry mob, but are rescued by a scientist who seeks to save the planet. This world, like Krypton, also appears to have its own “Jor-El.”
I also liked the reference to a biopic about the monkey who solves crimes, especially when Clark makes it clear that he knows Detective Chimp takes offence to being called a monkey. It’s great to have a dad who’s well-connected.
The idea that a planet whose imminent destruction parallels Krypton’s so closely on the exact date of Krypton’s destruction does stretch the willing suspension of disbelief somewhat. However, it does allow for Jon to make the somewhat amusing argument that he should go along because the situation is obviously a “sign from Rao.” Plus, it’s not the first time Superman’s encountered such a situation and likely won’t be the last, so I’m willing to allow the coincidental timing pass.
It seems to me that this title is at its best when it has focused on Superman and his family adventuring together. Despite DC’s reluctance to allow major changes to Superman’s status quo, family life really seems to suit Superman. This title demonstrates perfectly how DC is moving into the future while staying true to their past.