Review: SUPERMAN #17
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kevin Maguire
Colours: Paul Mounts
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Superman #17: Superman’s new Fortress of Solitude sits in the most remote corner of the Bermuda Triangle. Constructed using Kryptonian technology far beyond anything our world knows, filled with intergalactic, pan-dimensional secrets from all over the Multiverse…how could it possibly be missing?
We see Superman in a number of vignettes, showing different facets of the character. The issue opens with Superman attempting to break up a conflict between two alien space fleets. This is an interesting avenue for storytelling that Bendis has opened with his “Unity Saga” storyline. By putting Superman at the center of the formation of the United Planets, Superman has now taken on a new role as an interstellar statesman, especially as he seems to be the de facto emissary of Earth to the rest of the galaxy.
Then we see him with Lois. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much of Lois in this title for a while, but we finally get to see Clark and his wife get to have an extended conversation. It’s a touching heart to heart, and reminds us that each has just lost their father, and they both are missing their son, who has gone off to the 31st Century.
This conversation also shows that despite Clark’s superhuman abilities, Lois is the stronger emotionally. She is willing to put her own emotional pain on the back burner to help Clark work through his pain.
They also discuss the mysterious gift that Lex Luthor gave to Lois. She doesn’t reveal the contents to him, but assures Clark that she can handle it herself. Although Superman is suspicious of Luthor and feels protective of Lois, he ultimately trusts her assessment.
We still don’t know what this is, but Lois states, “It’s something that I have to publish.. in The Daily Planet.” Bendis is strongly hinting that whatever is in the box, it’s something big. I hope that Bendis doesn’t keep us wondering about this for much longer, as we’ve already been kept waiting for a while now.
Superman then shows off his badassery by shutting down an illegal S.T.A.R. Labs facility merely by showing up. He doesn’t have to actually do anything, as his very presence moves the entire installation to immediately surrender – well, except for the leader who flees the scene. This is pretty cool demonstration of how powerful Superman’s reputation is in the DCU. Batman is not the only hero who can win a fight using solely through intimidation.
He then meets with Supergirl and they travel to visit Zod’s New Krypton. It’s somewhat strange to see Superman and Zod on relatively friendly terms, especially for Kara. She clearly states her discomfort and that it will take her time to adjust to the truce between the Els and the Zods.
Then Clark has a brief talk with Kara, telling her that he has made a decision that will affect her. “This will affect everybody I know but it’s — it’s really going to affect you the most.” When she asks what it is, he just states, “It’s about truth.” Now this is all rather cryptic – or it would be if DC hadn’t already announced that Superman is planning on going public with his secret identity. This is an interesting idea, but what’s the point of being mysterious about it, when we already know what’s being hinted at?
Actually, there’s not a lot to complain about this issue. I still have several reservations about some of the changes Bendis has introduced to the mythos, but this issue is a strong story, with emotion, humour, and a bit of adventure. And the art is great too.
Bendis’ work on this title has been hit and miss, but this issue would definitely count as a hit. If Bendis could just get every issue to be as enjoyable as Superman #17, then this could be one of the best titles in DC’s current lineup.