Review: SUPERMAN #30
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Sean Lewis
Artists: Scott Godlewski, Sami Basri
Colours: Gabe Eltaeb, Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Superman #30: Superman has received a signal from distant space. An old friend is in deep trouble, and only the Man of Steel can help him. By the time Superman and his son get there, though, the alien who sent the signal is nowhere to be found, and his people appear to be enthralled by a shamanistic storyteller who warns of an ancient grudge with the malevolent Shadowbreed. This leaves Clark and Jonathan Kent to ponder just who sent them the distress message, but before they can find the answer, they’ll discover that an ancient grudge still has very current consequences.
Meanwhile, in the “Tales of Metropolis” backup story it’s…the return of Ambush Bug? Say it ain’t so!
The main story in Superman #30 begins with the Kent family enjoying a game of miniature golf, which is soon interrupted by a call to duty for Superman and son. One of the best things about Peter J. Tomasi’s Superman title was his focus on the Kent family dynamic. His depiction of Superman as a family man was perfect.
But then Brian Michael Bendis came, and messed it all up. Under Bendis’ tenure, Jon skipped over most of his teen years, then took off to live in the 31st Century, only occasionally visiting his parents.
However, it appears that while Phillip Kennedy Johnson is not immediately undoing all of Bendis’ changes, he is at least trying to rebuild the family dynamic that Bendis obliterated in service to his Legion of Super-Heroes reboot. Jon may be significantly older, but we get to see the Kents interacting as a family. And that’s something I really missed during Bendis’ run.
The story involves Superman returning to the scene of a previous adventure, bringing Superboy along with him. He introduces Jon to old allies that he had previously assisted. But Superman’s old friends are acting suspiciously.
I get the feeling that Clark’s showing the Jon the ropes of his role as Superman. Clark seems to be preparing Jon for the day when he has to take on that role. And given the events depicted in Future State plus the hints about Superman’s eventual fate that Jon learned in the 31st Century, that day might be coming very soon.
I hope that if Jon does take over, that that story is kept in a future timeline or is only a temporary changing of the guard. While Jon is one of my all-time favourite characters, the focus of Superman and Action Comics should always return to the original Superman, Clark Kent.
The second story features one of my other all-time favourites, Ambush Bug! The “Tales of Metropolis” backup continues from the previous installment, but this time the focus shifts from Bibbo to Ambush Bug. While Jimmy Olsen continues to be the central character of the continuing story, the Bug steals the show.
I really enjoyed the offbeat humour in Matt Fraction’s recent Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen series. And Sean Lewis seems to have tapped into a similar vein in this backup series. And who better to include in such a romp than DC’s fourth-wall-shattering Ambush Bug?
I also love that we’re getting to see some Metropolis’ citizens that we haven’t gotten to see in quite a while. I don’t think we’ve seen either Gangbuster or Loose Cannon for ages. I’m pretty sure that Flashpoint erased them both from continuity, but they seem to have returned in the new Infinite Frontier DCU. I wonder if Lewis will surprise us with some more old favourites as the story continues.
Kennedy seems to have a good handle on the characters and the story seems to be headed in an interesting direction. I have no complaints there. And the only issue I have with the Ambush Bug story is that it was too short. DC really needs to greenlight a new Ambush Bug special or miniseries!
Superman #30 shows that Phillip Kennedy Johnson has a good grasp on the title and may well be the man to return the Superman mythos to the shape it was in before Bendis threw it off kilter. I look forward to seeing what he has planned for the Man of Steel. And DC, let’s get working on on an Ambush Bug special or mini ASAP.