Superman #13 came out two weeks ago but holiday posts and end of year reviews kept pushing this review to the back burners. With the New Year here, I figured it was time to cover this issue. But as it is relatively dusty, I won't be going into as much exhaustive detail as I usually do.
For me, the main thrust of this issue is for us, as readers, to compare and contrast Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein with Superman and Lois respectively. Frankenstein is chasing a villain Kroog and is justifying his actions to Superman (something Superman needs to do frequently). And Frankenstein and the Bride are no longer together, split because of what happened to their son. I am hoping that this is creators Gleason and Tomasi contrasting the couple and not foreshadowing something terrible in store for Jon and Clark/Lois.
Doug Mahnke is a favorite of mine and his action and his page construction sparkle here. In particular, I think Mahnke shines in quasi-horror stories so using the Frankensteins in his issues was a smart move.
On to the bullet review:
Remember last issue we discovered that Hamilton Horn editor Candice was actually an alien named Kroog in disguise.
There is a lot here that I think you have to shrug and say 'it's comics'. Why, of all people to replace, did Kroog happen to pick the editor of the small town paper where Lois Lane works? It is sort of like in Major Bummer (another Doug Mahnke oeuvre) where criminals had something implanted that made them to stupid things near where heroes are. Otherwise, it is just bad luck.
And why does Lois jump to the conclusion that Kroog replaced Candice and wasn't simply Candice.
One thing I do like is that Kroog is being chased for interstellar crimes by Frankenstein. Kroog's defense is he/she (they use all the pronouns with the character) was consolidating power and holding on to his position. We know very little about what the details are. But doesn't Dr. Doom or Luthor or Brother Blood say the same thing to defend their actions?
Meanwhile Superman isn't too happy with the collateral damage Frankenstein used. And Frankenstein thinks Superman is a bit too fastidious.
But you could have Luthor say Superman's line and Superman say Frankenstein's and it would make sense. After all, Superman has certainly leveled buildings and had devastation surround him when he has fought big threats as well.
Is the message here that Superman should give him a pass? Or perhaps that Frankenstein is Superman, just rough around the edges?
The Bride of Frankenstein shows up to claim Kroog for a bounty. She doesn't work for S.H.A.D.E. anymore and she clearly hates her ex.
The two go after each other, wishing each other dead.
Mahnke does a good job showing how quickly this erupts by making the action panels smaller, bringing a nice kinetic feeling to the proceedings.
During the fight, Kroog explodes himself. The tiny pieces all scurry to reform somewhere else meaning Superman and the 'Steins need to team up and track him down again.
Lois asks what happened between the Bride and the Monster and we learn that the Bride needed to kill her own son. The Frankenstein offspring went mad, turned evil, and needed to get put down. But that is too much tragedy for the family.
The last panel is heavy with portent. Does this mean Lois and Clark hide things? Or is it to show that they don't hide things? Is this whole seen a foreshadow that something with Jon will drive a wedge between Clark and Lois? Or is it to cement that nothing like that could happen?
And then we get this piece of something ominous.
Local neighbor Farmer Cobb looks creepily out the curtains as everyone takes off.
What is up his sleeve? Is he evil? Another Supervillain who just happens to be nearby? A worried human who doesn't like aliens and monsters tearing up his quiet rural town?
Kroog is finally captured and the Bride claims her for the bounty.
Earlier we saw that Frankenstein's monster was wearing the Bride's wedding ring on his hand, perhaps showing he hoped that their relationship isn't over.
Here he asks her to forgive him and for them to work out their problems. He is unmoored without her ... such a great word. But he hopes one can become two. And they can restart a family ... two can become three.
It is not too be. The Bride says 'one is simply one' and flies off.
The issue ends with a nice wordless page of Lois and Clark hugging each other in front of the fire and then tucking Jon in.
Perhaps this is to show that Lois and Clark are stronger than the Frankensteins. That their love is resolute. Or maybe this is the calm before the storm.
Overall this was a good two issue arc, more designed to give us character moments and had me thinking about Lois and Clark as a pair again. But something like Jon being killed while on an 'adventure' could shake things up.
I hope this was just a compare/contrast piece and not a foreshadow. But only time will tell.