Review: SUPERMAN #19
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Andworld Design
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Superman #19: One day later! What happens the day after Superman reveals his secret identity to the world? And what repercussions will his decision have across the entire DC Universe?
Last issue, Superman revealed his secret identity to the world, a shocking change in the character’s status quo. Whether or not this is a wise direction for Superman, it raises a number of questions. With Superman #19, Brian Michael Bendis starts to explore how this affects Lois and Clark on a practical level.
One question tackled is how this affects Clark’s professional life at the Daily Planet? Can he still continue working as a reporter, writing on Superman’s exploits for the Planet? Thus, we see Lois and Clark in a meeting with Perry, as his future as a reporter is being decided.
Lucklily, Perry and the Planet are prepared to be supportive. Even though there is some concern that Superman’s association with the paper may make it a target, they decide that the publicity potential of having Superman on staff outweighs the risk.
I have to wonder if the current miniseries Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen was meant to make the Planet’s decision more believable. In that series, the Planet puts up with a lot of Jimmy’s shenanigans despite their extreme risk because they help sell papers. Keeping Superman on staff as a writer seems merely a logical extension of the same principle.
But quite sensibly, Perry now insists that Clark cannot quote Superman as a separate source. This is a point that I had wondered about. However, I still wonder if Clark is open to any legal ramifications for all the times he did so in the past. But, Perry tells us that this is “the first of thousands of conversations, depositions, and all-around annoying things we are going to have to deal with now in the name of truth”. In short, there are a lot of legal issues that will most likely be dealt with off-panel so that Bendis can progress the story without being hindered by them.
We also see Clark confronting all his co-workers at the Planet for the first time since the big reveal. Unsurprisingly, they mostly wish to express their gratitude. This is understandable, considering that he has not only save the lives of many of them individually, but also by saving the Daily Planet, Metropolis, or the world.
I liked Clark’s admission that he had been feigning typos in his newspaper stories so that Lois’ notoriously poor spelling didn’t stand out so much. This he calls an act of “marital solidarity”. Luckily for them, Lois reacts to this revelation by seeing this as a sweet gesture, rather than feeling condescended to.
We then see Clark travel to the Hall of Justice, where the various Justice League teams and their allies have gathered in a similar show of support for his decision. Even Batman makes an appearance, even though we know from Batman and the Outsiders #9 that Bruce has his doubts about Clark’s choice.
There is also another surprising presence at the Hall of Justice. Harley Quinn is present, sitting at the table with the Leaguers. This has led some to wonder if Harley is going to be soon joining the Justice League. DCN’s own Matthew B. Lloyd asked incoming Justice League writer Robert Venditti via Twitter if Harley was going to be showing up in Justice League. Venditti’s response was a simple “Negative”. Whether or not this is good or bad news will depend on how you feel about Harley. Personally, I don’t feel she’d be a great fit for the team, so it’s probably for the best.
There is an editor’s note stating that Superman’s meeting with the Justice League will be continued in Superman: Heroes #1, so perhaps Harley’s presence at this meeting will be explained there.
We also see Mongul interrupting the newly formed United Planets as the delegates examine an potential headquarters for the UP. Mongul is one of Superman’s more powerful enemies, so it looks like Superman has quite the battle ahead of him next issue.
When Clark was facing the Daily Planet staff, I think it was criminal that we didn’t get to see an encounter between Clark and Steve Lombard. I would love to see a sheepish Steve have to face up to the fact that the guy he’s been bullying is one of the most powerful beings in the world. Would he beg forgiveness or would he try to bluster his way through the encounter? I hope Bendis does allow us to see this moment at some point.
This may be a nitpick, but it had me a bit confused when reading it. When examining the possible new home for the United Planets, one of the Dominators complains, “It’s a bit orange”. However, the planet in question appears to drawn entirely in shades of green. Was this a colouring error or are Dominators colour blind? However, this is a minor quibble at best.
I am still unsure of whether Clark dropping his secret identity was a wise direction for the Superman books. However, I do feel that it is being handled a lot better than when his secret was revealed in the New 52 era. The widespread acceptance and support he is getting for his decision makes a lot more sense than the fear and suspicion that he faced in the New 52. I am finding the story interesting and I hope that Bendis will sell me on this bold direction for the character. With Superman #19, he has made a first step towards doing so.