Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Review: Superman #10

Superman #10 has a cover depicting Superman fighting his father, proclaiming the Wrath of Jor-El. It is a bit of a feint. These two actually never stand in the same room with each other. And in some ways, Jor-El is shown in a more positive light than normal (for this book).

Still, this chapter of The Unity Saga, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Ivan Reis/Joe Prado (present day) and Brandon Peterson (flashback sequences) pushes the plot forward nicely. There are some very good moments in the book and one nice hint at future battles to come.

I don't think I will ever be happy with the aging of Jon. I don't like the idea that he spent years marooned on Earth 3, either trapped on a volcano or in hiding. I don't think we needed that to happen. But, at the very least, he didn't go grim, dark, or evil ... my biggest worry when I first heard this was occurring. I don't think he should have gone; I don't think he should have been allowed to go. I don't think Lois should have left him. But here we are.

Bendis as usual brings us some great character moments. I like how Jon is thinking of Damian almost immediately on his return to Earth. And the Clark/Lois/Superman relationship still hasn't been explained well enough for me to understand what the heck is going on. At the very least, we know they are still madly in love with each other.

As for the art, it continues to impress. Peterson brings a sort of organic feel to his stuff with round edges and minimal rendering. Reis and Prado continue to evoke a sort of Neal Adams grandeur to the proceedings.

Overall, this was a very good issue. On to the details.

Last issue we saw Jon get attacked by Lois Lane/Superwoman as he attempted to find a way off Earth 3. After years of being tortured by a father lookalike, we see him being physically assaulted by his mother. And Bendis' version of Superwoman is terrifying, more like a feral cat, slashing away and roaring displeasure. Unlike the cold torture of Ultraman, this is a hot rage.

And yet, much like Ultraman's face didn't register with Jon, Jon is unfazed by this being a version of his mother. There is something brilliant about how much he loves Lois that this attack didn't uncover any ill will he felt for Lois.

Luckily, the fight is brief.

Somehow Jor-El has finally found Jon at this moment. And using a big gun is able to blast her away so the two can teleport to his ship.

I love that Grandpa is in the Superman font, my only reason for feeling compelled to share this page.

Back on his ship, Jon gets a once over by the ship's medical programs, including what seems to be a thorough physical exam.

Again, my whole worry about this arc of Jon aging would be that he would come back jaded or dark. So to hear him say that he almost lost hope but never did was perfect. He is still that same Jon.

It turns out that the Source Wall breach from Justice League caused a singular breakdown in time/space such that Jon was tossed into the past. They talk of how the timey-wimeyness of it all has made it seem that Jon has only been gone for 22 days. But for what sounds like years in time, Jor-El has been wracking his brain trying to track down his grandson. You can see how it has plagued him. His body language also feels like someone tortured.

After the check-up, Jor gives Jon his new supersuit. 

I do like that the major events in JL were brought up here. Nice continuity nudge.

And hearing that Jor-El spent his time solely searching for Jon casts him in a better light than the madman we last saw. This is about as heroic, as sympathetic we have seen him. If this was Jon's last encounter, having not seen Jor for the years Jon was gone, it is hard to think his first words to his folks would be Grandpa's crazy. For all Jon knows, Jor has been in therapy and is better.

But just like the Superwoman fight is short-lived, so is this Grandfather reunion. Jon never gets to hear more from Jor-El because their ship is almost immediately attacked by Rogol Zaar and General Zod and Jax-Ur. Jor-El activates a teleportation rig in Jon's suit and sends him to Earth.

Now this is a big deal. How did they get out of the Phantom Zone? What has happened to Zod such that he is now working with Zaar? And when is this going to come to a head?

And if Jon has only been gone for 22 days does that mean the events of Man of Steel, the opening arc of Superman, and everything that has happened in Supergirl has all occurred in less than 3 weeks. Whew!

And then the family reunion is completely truncated as well. I don't know if I understand this rush. But as soon as Superman hears about Jor-El and hears the description of Rogol Zaar (remember Jon was gone before Man of Steel so has no idea who Zaar is), Superman says they need to head out.

He asks Jon if he is ready to suit up and Jon says yes. Nice moment of pride here.

But seriously, can't the kid have one night in his bed before they head back out?

In Jon's recent past he has been tortured, on the streets, fought his mother, reunited with his insane grandfather, and sent back to Earth. Can't he have a decent meal? Call Damian and talk for an hour? Have a nap?

Or is the threat to everything, which has been the same threat for a while, really so pressing?

Even Lois seems a little surprised at how quickly everything is moving.

Nice part here where Lois and Clark restate their love for each other.

And then Lois has to say goodbye to Jon again.

She honestly has no idea where they are going or what they are doing. This could be a mission where they die in space. We know how powerful and crazy Jor-El is. She has seen Zaar almost kill Clark.

Yes, it is a nice set of panels where she says how proud she is of Jon. She is hiding how much this is bothering her but she is happy he is still him and not changed.

I just can't believe she wouldn't say to pause this one night.

This was the only thing I couldn't really get behind. All this needed was one text box that said 'the next morning after hours of catching up ...'

Instead the Jor-El suit reactivates and Jon and Superman are teleported to Jor-El's ship which is in the middle of some interstellar battle with Thanagarians and some other races.

So there was a lot to like here. I like Jon being resilient and how the love he was raised with helped him. I like the Zaar threat and the mystery that presents. I like how Jor-El was actually a decent guy looking for Jon all these years. And I even like the conversation between the Kent family.

I just wish we could have had one deep breath to let the family stick together a little more. But the gas pedal is down.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

'Neal Adams grandeur...' I like that!

You're right about the squiffy timeline, Brian might benefit from a visit to former Legion writer Paul Levitz for a masterclass in charting out longterm storylines.

Excellent point about Superman dragging Jon out again; I suppose he knows his son wants to be involved, but really, he should be sending Jon to a safe bed and calling in some extra heroes - if the JLA and Titans are busy, bring on The Power Company, the Leymen, heck, Young Heroes in Love or Hero Hotline!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what else the Jor-El Teleportation Suit can do. As long as it isn't only a round-trip ticket between earth and Jor-El's ship, and if Jon can learn how to control it, it could come in handy.

The Titans. Sigh. Don't think they're going to help out now that they have moved to Cancelled Land. The team never quite worked. But maybe Ben Rubel is now freed up just in time to rejoin Supergirl.

It does seem okay that only 3 weeks have passed. It always feels longer to me too because of the months of publication it takes, and I have to remind myself of that. The trades will zip by faster.


Anonymous said...

While I'm glad that Jon apparently isn't going to be turned into a terrible "edgy" villain (unless all of this is a fakeout), I agree that having him go right back out into the fray paints the Kents YET AGAIN as terrible parents. It's almost like this book is written by & for men who aren't or don't want to be responsible for their families or something...

Just have the writer/editors admit that they never really wanted to use the character & either put him on the proverbial shelf or let another creative team use him. They should have let people who don't see anyone under the age of 17 as an anchor or a prop write Jon, not keep turning him over to DC's usual gang of manchildren.

And before anyone says "But Zoom!", that's not Jon. That's a whole different, infinitely less likable character, and that's another example of DC trying to subtly sabotage the character by putting him in a confused & confusingly-paced book.

Glad you're enjoying it, Anj, but I'd kill to wind back time and let someone like Louise Simonson, who can write children as more than just vehicles for Daddy's angst, write Jon & the Kent family from the start of Rebirth. Maybe we'd have prevented all this.