[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Josh Reed
It’s the moment you never thought you’d see—Superman must team with General Zod to defeat Rogol Zaar or risk banishment for all three in the cold prison of the Phantom Zone forever. Whatever you do, do not skip to the last page—the end of this issue changes the lives of Superman and his family forever as the Unity Saga continues!
In this issue, we are privy to much more of Superman’s inner dialogue than usual, so many pages feature blocks of dialogue outside of the usual caption boxes or thought balloons. Visually, this is strongly reminiscent of old adventure comic strips such as Flash Gordon or John Carter, Warlord of Mars. The stunning artwork does much to emphasize this. This is a wonder nod to the comics of yore.
I also love Adam Strange and the Atom are present. Bendis clearly has a reverence for DC’s Silver Age, and both these characters are stalwarts of that era, and reflect the strong science fiction bent of DC comics at the time.
The biggest development this issue however occurs in the final panel – Jon’s back! He’s sporting a new costume, which I have mixed feelings about. I actually like the general look. It actually looks more like a superhero outfit, rightly eschewing the sneakers and torn jeans.
On the other hand, I do miss the jacket, but the new outfit carries over some element of the jacket. However, on the whole, the costume appears a bit too much like armour. Ideally I’d like to see a costume that marries the best elements of his original costume and this one.
The other thing, is that Jon appears to be older. It’s difficult to tell how much from the single panel, but he appears noticeably older than ten, which is his age when he left. I feel somewhat uncomfortable with this change, but I will withhold judgement until we learn more next issue.
Personally, next issue is going to be a crisis point in my reading of the series. When Bendis finally reveals what Jon’s been up to and what changes he’s gone through, that’s the point at which Bendis is going to have sell me on his new direction for Superman. That’s the point at which I’ll either be on board with what he’s doing or that he’ll have lost me.
Given that Bendis is bringing back Conner Kent in Young Justice, and Jon’s absence over the last few months, I have been somewhat apprehensive about Jon’s future. What path Bendis takes with Jon is going to be a large part of whether or not he will win me over or put me off of his vision for the Superman mythos.
Also, I have to admit that in this issue, that Superman deliberately manipulating Zod’s feelings towards Rogol Zaar seemed oddly out of character for him. Clark is not manipulative by nature, and wouldn’t engage in such tactics – especially when Zod was already focused on fighting Zaar anyway. Hopefully this is a momentary aberration and that not something that will become a habit.
So far, Bendis’ work on this title has been enjoyable to read, but has left a number of matters unresolved that have made me uneasy. Now that these issues are finally being addressed, I am hopeful that Bendis will take things in the right direction – but I also have some trepidation that he might be going the wrong way.