Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: Man Of Steel #3

The Man of Steel #3 came out this week, marking the halfway point of this opening arc of the Brian Michael Bendis era for Superman. Anyone who comes to this site knows I had some concerns about this takeover. Everything seemed to be going right for the Superman books. Why should DC rock the boat?

Three issues in and I can say that I am very pleased with what Bendis is doing here. This doesn't detract from the Jurgens/Tomasi/Gleason stuff. It just means that Bendis seems to be embracing all that Superman is much as those prior teams did. There are pitch perfect moments in this issue that just sang to me. If you like classic Superman or if you like Modern Superman or if (like me) you like both, you are in good hands here.

I also have to add that I worried about what this changeup would mean for Supergirl in particular. After all, this is a Supergirl site first and foremost. This issue features Supergirl prominently and, again, I am very pleased. There is an easy camaraderie between the cousins here, a familiarity that I haven't sensed between them for a long long time. They clearly know each other, have fought with each other, and love each other. So that pushes this issue that much higher in my mind.

Add to all this the glittery artwork of Ryan Sook, one of my all time favorites, and you have a winning issue. Things travel fast. There is a lot of wordless pages here. But they punctuate the powerful emotional beats.

Bendis is here! So far so good.

On to the book.

The book opens with a splash of Earth, mirroring the splash of Krypton from the first issue. It brings a twinge of anticipation and trepidation immediately. We know what happened to Krypton. So is Earth next?

Then we get several nearly silent pages of Rogol Zaar heading to and breaking into the Fortress of Solitude. Without much fuss, he dispatches the Kelex robots. And then, surrounded by artifacts of Krypton he gets to work.

I found the second panel to be an interesting art choice. We see after images of Zaar as he spears Kelex. Usually those ghost images indicate superspeed. My guess is this was to show us readers that Zaar isn't a lumbering, 'come get me' Juggernaut style villain. He might be huge but he is fast.

Back in Metropolis, another building has burned down.

There is a great scene between Melody Moore (who shows she is no nonsense by saying she never wants to hear about the press arriving), Superman (who comes out of the shadows waving his hand and smiling so as not to scare Moore), and Batman (who lurks in the shadows specifically to scare Moore). Superman has brought the world's greatest detective on board to help investigate the crimes, something Superman isn't great at.

There is a lot to love here. The panel of Superman emerging from the shadows is pure Clark. The fact he and Batman are close friends, enough for the Dark Knight to come by and help, feels classic and right. And Batman saying he scared Moore because he is Batman was chuckle-worthy.

Anybody who thought I was overstating Moore looking like Lana should take a gander at that top panel. That *is* Lana.

Meanwhile, Superman takes off when he picks up a special alarm. Batman's response also shows that Bendis has a grasp of who Superman is. He is the politest man in the galaxy. That means him taking off without a goodbye should give you a sense of how dire the emergency is.


The alarm was the Fortress alarm.

Superman arrives to see the place in shambles. Supergirl shows up shortly thereafter. It means Supergirl is tuned into the alarm too. Subtle but shows how close she is.

Then Clark sees something tragic and he wonders if he should lie to Kara to spare her. He would do that because he loves her so much.

Remember, I have lived through times where Supergirl wanted to kill Kal, hated Kal, wanted nothing to do with Kal, or ignored him. I have seen him 'leave her alone' or ignore her back. This isn't the super-cousins I want to read.

So hearing him state that he loves Supergirl so much, that he would shield her from pain, just struck me. These two should love each other and be part of each other's lives. As a Supergirl fan, this panel alone would have made this issue a winner.

But there is tragedy here.

Zaar smashed the city of Kandor, killing its inhabitants.

Sook delivers the scene with appropriate impact. the shattered city is in the foreground. The cousins, distraught, collapsing on each other, crying, silently screaming are in the background. Just powerful.

Now I have to say, I had to think hard to remember if Kandor being here was a re-introduction to the New 52 timeline or a retcon perhaps brought about by Rebirth/Reborn. Kandor was in the Brainiac ship during Morrison's run but I don't think it got much (if any) screen time outside that.

Still, brutal.

This sad moment again allows Clark to remember Lois and Jon and their disappearance.

The 'finger' from last issue is indeed a ship. We see it open up and get the glimpse of the pilot.

Are those red trunks? Are the three green dots supposed to evoke a Brainiac vibe? Is this the Ultima Thule being piloted by a hypertime Superman?

Any guesses as to who this is?

Brought back to the present, Superman realizes that whoever destroyed the Fortress knows who he is. The cousins need to protect their loved ones on Earth. He tells Kara that Lois and Jon are 'safe ... somewhere else'. It implies he knows where/when they are. But no other clues.

But what also struck me is how Superman, in his grief, begins listing off the dead from Kandor. He drops a ton of Silver Age names: Van-Zee, Sylvia DeWitt (the Earth woman who married Van), even Lesla Lar!!

Seriously, Lesla Lar! Bendis does seem to care about Supergirl and her place in the Superman mythos!

Superman streaks back to Metropolis. There is a great two panel spread with Superman flying with his arms outstretched and panels of Metropolis below. It screams how he is the city's protector, taking it 'under wing' and shielding it.

Nothing seems out of the ordinary but Superman recognizes this as the trap it is. Whoever wants to fight him lured him here so it can be a public beatdown. Showing how he isn't always the politest man, especially when the time calls for fisticuffs, he says he is happy to oblige!

So much here. Love how Superman has a 'bring it on' attitude to anyone who would threaten his loved ones. I love that we see Mr. Action Jimmy Olsen running for the story. And the fact that the initial attack seems to overwhelm Superman shows this isn't going to be easy.

Luckily Supergirl is there to swoop in and rip Kal out of this attack burst.

Showing her youth, her fiery impetuousness, her fierceness, she asks Superman 'who the dead guy is'. She is ready to bring to show Rogol Zaar who's boss.

The last two pages are the cousins streaking to engage.


Maybe it is the Supergirl fan in me. Maybe it is the friendship between Superman and Batman. Maybe it was hearing the names of Kandorians I haven't read about in a while (albeit in a death toll). But this issue really captured so much of what I want in Superman and the Superman family. I was thrilled.

Maybe annihilating a city should make me wail against the grim and gritty nature of comics. But instead I thought this was a powerful emotional moment. (It doesn't hurt that I didn't remember if Kandor was still around. Maybe I won't miss it because I didn't know it was still there.)

Add Sook's wonderful art and page layouts and this is clearly my favorite issue of the run so far.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

There was much to love in this issue.

I'm not sure what Bendis gets Kara's voice right. "What the Hell? What the actual-?" sounds like something an American teenager would tell.

I'm also wondering about her "I've not much of a life" comment. I hope it's not implying her social life is nonexistent again.

"Remember, I have lived through times where Supergirl wanted to kill Kal, hated Kal, wanted nothing to do with Kal, or ignored him."

I know. I've had to read "Candor" again this week. Why on Earth someone thought that garbage was acceptable is beyond me. It doesn't help that arc was completely pointless.

Anyway, yes, their interaction was great and something has been missing in the books for a long while.

And their reaction to Kandor was a powerful moment.

I was impressed when Superman listed names of Kandorians. Van-Zee and his family? Lesla-Lar? Definitely impressed.

Then again, I noticed those names were listed in the DC Wiki's Kandor page (updated this week to add Shyla and Zora), so maybe Bendis looked the names up in the Wiki. Not that it's a bad thing per se, and we've got our first Lesla mention in decades.

Bendis' Superman blends nicely traits of Earth-One and New Earth Superman so far.

Anonymous said...

Great review Anj. This issue was A+ to me. This is how the relationship should be between Kal and Kara and it is all I ever wanted. I hope we can keep this past MoS, but I will take everything I get in the moment and celebrate it.

For someone who comes from another publisher I think the care which he has gone to, to build the world and characters as we expect them to be is nothing but amazing and surpasses the long time DC writers who (*cough*, forgets that Karas rocket left Krypton too).

Whoever took Lois and Jon, I'm pretty certain that they went on their own volition or Supes and his friends and family would be tearing up the world, looking for them.

It looks like Lex or Brainiac, but it's more likely Metron in his chair coming to protect them from Rogol, or Jor-El. The Oz plot thread was left dead with a pointless end and probably has more story to tell.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, my favorite option is that someone from the Injustice verse crossed over to prevent Lois from being murdered by Rogol. After they got knowledge of other worlds, someone took it upon themselves to make sure Lois never dies in any world. :D

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Metron is a fascinating thought as I thought the ship looked Kirby-esque!

Anonymous said...

Last time that I remember, pre-Flashpoint, there were many "inspired-by" Kandors, one of which was bottled up in the Fortress. So when that one got sent to some unreachable time-space dimension, it didn't turn out to matter because the real one was still around, and arrived with Brainiac.

(It's possible that lost copy of faux-Kandor is the same one that Supergirl and Power Girl visited for a few days in the Candor storyline - that was never made too clear. We had just joined them there "One Year Later." Maybe I forgot if it was ever explained how and why they got there.)

And then, the real Kandor that was unbottled from Brainiac's ship led to nothing but trouble, as it eventually grew to become the troublesome New Krypton. Those badly-adjusted Kandorians were just the sort of arrogant Kryptonians that probably deserved to learn a lesson or two from Rogol Zaar.

Now, it's been questioned before, didn't Superman, just before he "died", bequeath Kara the fortress, including parts she had never seen before? That Superman, and the older one who came with Lois and Jon from another Earth, merged - but you still never wound up with a Superman who had never given Kara the keys. So it makes sense she would detect any alarms from there - it should be her Fortress!

I'm still appreciating the moments of humor. Like with Batman, and his interactions with Superman.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Just because Rogal Zaar smashed the bottle, does that necessarily mean that all of the Kandorians perished? It isn't as if they are like fish out of water, unable to survive in Earth's atmosphere. At their tiny size, a number of them could have scattered unseen. And wouldn't they gain super powers outside of the bottle?

So who's in the ship? (Who's on first?) It COULD be Metron, but I wonder...Metron wears blue, and his headpiece covers his ears, not so the figure in shadow. And is he wearing green tights or are those his bare legs? Could it be Martian Manhunter?

It's great to see Superman and Supergirl come together to fight a common foe, though I wish the circumstances weren't so tragic. I wonder about Supergirl's dialogue: "future dead person" and "hey, dead guy!" Is this just youthful confidence, or will Kara be the one to kill Zaar in the end? Is that how she gets his axe? I hope she doesn't kill him. I don't mind if Zaar winds up dead, but I hope it's of his own doing, and not directly by Supergirl or Superman.

Next week the art is by Kevin Maguire, a preview of his upcoming work on Supergirl.

Anonymous said...

I thought the "Chair Dweller" was one of the New Gods, specifically "Metron". It'd be like him to spirit Lois & Son away for some complex purpose.
But everyone else's theory is valid as well at this point.
So Kandor gets casually destroyed JUST to make the New Big Bad seem unimaginably Formidable & also to motivate the Hero To New Heights of Heroism? Wow thats new and different, I've only seen it ninety seven times in the last ten years.
I've changed my mind, if Superman wants Supergirl off Earth and away from the looming confrontation, in a meta sense its a good idea, this whole storyline is "Thanos Lite" and Thanos himself is nothing but a rip off of Darkseid...we wouldn't want Supergirl to get bored after all.
That remark though about Supergirl "not having much" truly rankled yet another bloated creative dismissing her continuity in favor of his own overrated notions....this whole mishaugas is very familiar & unimaginative.


Martin Gray said...

Great review. My thoughts on who the shop person might be are over at my blog. I’m too embarrassed to repeat ‘em here! Loved the issue, but I do hope all the Kandorians jumped into the Survival Zone and spilled their ketchup en route...