Review: SUPERMAN #28
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Superman #28: Superman comes face to face with an alien race that he desperately wants to help before it is too late. As the cosmically powered race known as the Synmar aim their deadly power at the Man of Steel’s adopted planet, Superman finds himself pushed past anything he has ever faced! Get ready to experience a powerhouse moment for Superman that’s been years in the making!
I’m sorry, but there are not a lot of positives in this review. There are a couple things Bendis got right here, which I will touch upon in the next section. On the other hand, I have nothing but praise for Ivan Reis and Danny Miki’s art. While the story didn’t make a whole lot of sense, at least it was beautiful to look at.
So we have come to the Bendis’ final issue of Superman. This is a sad moment for fans of Bendis’ Superman titles, but others are celebrating that the nightmare is finally over. Well almost over, as Bendis still has an issue of Action Comics left before moving on from the character’s books.
Personally, I have found Bendis’ writing on Superman to be hit-and-miss. Some issues tell a pretty good tale, others have had various issues. Often, Superman and Lois act out of character, the most notable example being their (thankfully) temporary separation. Also, the plots are often confusing or just plain not interesting.
And Bendis made some terrible changes to the Superman mythos. Bendis didn’t bring Jor-El back from the dead, but he chose to make Superman’s father an unhinged madman who was part of a shadowy interplanetary conspiracy. He also created the uninteresting character Rogol Zaar. And worse, he inserted this character into Superman’s origin story by making him the destroyer of Krypton.
But Bendis’ worst crime against the Superman canon was sending a 10-year-old Jon Kent off on a space voyage with his grandfather, and bringing him back a few weeks later as a 17-year-old. The previous volume of the Superman series, written by Peter J. Tomasi had established a beautiful dynamic of Superman as father and husband. Bendis threw that family dynamic out just so he could set up Jon as part of Legion of Super-Heroes reboot.
As for Superman revealing his secret identity to the world, I was somewhat unsure of that story, but have found I’m okay with that change. I think it was a natural progression for the character at some point. However, it was probably not a good choice to do this so soon after his identity had been revealed to the world in the New 52 era. But Bendis, for the most part, did a decent job on this aspect of his run.
Bendis’ final issue of his run on Superman, unfortunately wasn’t one of his better ones. In fact. There is a decent story struggling to get out of his tale of Superman’s encounter with the Synmar Utopica, but it falls flat. I was following the story up to this point, but the conclusion was rather confusing. I thought the Synmar Utopica was seeking revenge on Superman, who he thought massacred his race. But in Superman #28, it turns out his people actually had a civil war.
And the Utopica suddenly wants to take over the Synmar home planet himself now? And bringing Superman to his planet aids this how? It all just seems like a convoluted mess so that Bendis can bring in his newly minted “United Planet Brigade” – the apparent precursor to the future Science Police.
Oh, and Supergirl shows up with Krypto in tow. Apparently for no other reason than to call her cousin an idiot.
There is another story in the issue, being told mainly in the narration captions and in the epilogue. The narration contains Lana’s story about what she learned from her interview with Superman and from reading the manuscript of Lois’ unpublished book about her husband. Last issue, it seemed like Lois was about to impart a big secret about Superman to Lana, which was left hanging. Well, the big secret is, “Superman needs us too”.
It’s not like this is a big revelation. Superman doesn’t hang around Earth for idle amusement. Of course he needs the people of Earth. He was raised as one of us, and has the same need for the people around him that we all do. This is no big revelation.
And while it’s great to see Lois and Clark have a romantic moment to themselves, it is largely spoiled by their encounter with Rona Kowalski, a random woman who is practising playing guitar on a building rooftop. The encounter with her is rather trite and stilted. I suspect that Rona is based on a real person that Bendis was trying to impress by giving her a poorly-written cameo in his final issue. She has never been shown or mentioned before, has no bearing on the story, and I suspect she will never be heard of again. The whole encounter seems completely pointless.
And with Superman #28, Brian Michael Bendis’ time as writer of the title comes to a close. Although, there were some bright spots in that run, I hope the next creative team takes a good hard look at the state Bendis has left the Superman mythos in. Bendis ignored the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, and now the incoming creative team actually needs to do some fixing.