[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Art: Andy Kubert & Sandra Hope
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Superman has arrived on Rann to ask Sardath to help him locate Alice by tracing the Zeta Beam that was used to abduct her. Sardath explains that because of the ubiquitousness of Zeta Beams, it would be impossible to track one. Additionally, for Superman to attempt to do so and allow his mind to be exposed to the beams would drive him mad. Superman being Superman tries anyways.
Superman’s exposure appears to fulfill Sardath’s diagnosis. He begins to experience all the things that worry him about his mission for fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Most telling is how he sees his fears play out in how he affects others, be it inspiration or his own guilt at not being able to save everybody. When he finally meets a little girl who seems to be describing the experience he imagines Alice going through, he snaps back to reality and breaks out of the Zeta Beam trances with the knowledge that Alice has been taken to the Bode’s Galaxy. He leaves without delay.
While the plot doesn’t progress much, the story really focuses on Superman’s character. We get some real insight into his fears. It’s not often that Superman’s exposed in this manner and it makes for some powerful moments. It’s also interesting to see someone else have a similar experience to Superman, but be able to make it seem to be a more universal condition.
Jor-El makes an appearance in Superman’s Zeta Trance and it is wonderfully nostalgic to see Kal-El’s father depicted in his classic green outfit with sunburst logo. It’s also nice to see Sardath and Rann used. Adam Strange is a highly underused character from DC’s Silver Age and any exposure of the character and his world are welcomed.
The plot doesn’t move forward hardly at all as this issue explores emotional and psychological components of Superman’s character. This may feel as if it slows down the pace, but it doesn’t seem to negatively impact the overall narrative.
Tom King chooses to use the notion that Lois Lane can’t spell for this story. While it’s a fairly minor complaint, it has always seemed incongruent with the depiction as a top, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. It never seems to simply make Lois seem like a real person with an idiosyncrasy, it just seems to make her appear stupid, especially when she seems unaware of the spell check feature on word processing programs.
While the plot is fairly static, the exploration emotional and psychological aspects of Superman’s character are not only enjoyable, but moving. It’s rare to see Superman in such a raw state. There’s no shortage of great Superman characterization, even if Lois gets the short end of the stick. This issue continues the reprints from Superman/ Batman, Green Lantern and The Terrifics.