Monday, September 23, 2019

Review: Superman #15

I have been reading comics for a long time. I have read a lot of comics. I have read it all.

So when a comic floors me, when it makes me pause and say 'wow', when it teleports me back to being a very young Anj and reminds me why I love this medium, I am giddy.

Superman #15 is such an issue.

For a Superman fan, a Supergirl fan, a Legion of Super-Heroes fan, and a fan of heroes being heroes and not all mired down with angsty feet of clay, this issue was perfect.

I read it and muttered 'wow'.
Then I immediately reread it and said 'wow' again,

For a grizzled reader, frayed and friable from decades of grim and gritty, this was wonderful.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis shows us just who Superman should be. He is an inspirational figure, a true friend, a wonderful cousin, and a great father. He also shows us how much potential there is within all the Els. So Superboy shines. And Supergirl shines. These heroes are able to even nudge villains closer to the light. Wonderful.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado bring a power to the proceedings, larger than life and Neal Adams-esque in its grandeur. And I was glad to see Brandon Peterson get some pages with the Jor-El piece since he covered Jor-El's time in issues. This is a big issue which needs big art and the team delivers. Just incredible.

The Unity Saga is over and ends on the perfect high note.


We start with a splash of Rogol Zaar, unconscious and trapped within an energy globe prison.

It fits in nicely with the 'globe' opening page theme we have seen since the beginning of Man of Steel so long ago.

I like when artistic flourishes and themes continue to percolate through runs. This was a nice capstone.

Superman ruminates on Zaar when Adam Strange comes in.

This has been a tumultuous day. A brawl at Krypton's grave, a court proceeding on Thanagar, an impending galactic war, the beginning of the United Planets ... that's a lot.

So seeing Superman hug his friend is just perfect. He is happy his friend is alive. He is happy things are good. He is affectionate. It just makes sense. I loved this small little moment.

Strange comes to thank Superman but also to makes sense of the events which have unfolded recently. So we flash back.

The Legion of Super-Heroes arrived!


That's a big deal.

I've been waiting a looooonnnnggg time for my team to come back.

 Turns out their return is a little premature. They were supposed to arrive once the United Planets were established. But as Kara says it hasn't quite happened yet.

I love that befuddled look on Brainy. This is a young 12th level intelligence. His being a little off is endearing. And I love how it is Kara that seems to be defending him. I ship them.

And yes, Ivan Reis does draw a great Supergirl. No big surprise there.

 But it is clear that the idea of a UP makes sense.

Slowly, the participants, Khunds, Dominators, etc ... seem to like the idea. And once Superman says he'll be speaking on Earth's behalf, the idea is adopted.

We are talking about galactic empires who fall in line once Superman says he is on the panel.

That is the inspiration of Superman.

This is what I want to read.

I also can't help but think this was a callback, waayyyy back, to this moment in Superman #1 (the beginning of The Unity Saga!) when J'onn challenges Superman to be more of a leader, a galactic leader.

At the time, J'onn seemed a bit angry and off. Angry enough to make me think for a second he might be Leviathan.

But it all comes full circle. Superman says he'll be that leader in the United Planets.

 Once everybody signs on, it is left to Jon, the architect of the idea, to name this day.

He declares it Unity Day!

I love this picture so much. Such joy and happiness.

I love the raised fists on the youngsters.

I love the pleased as punch, hands on hip, Superman.

I love the canine smile on Krypto.

And the half smile, grudging respect on Zod's face, even as he has his arms crossed, is brilliant.

This should be a poster or a t-shirt or both.

Brilliant art by Reis and Prado!

 But there is more than the triumph of Unity Day.

There is the tragedy of Zaar and Jor-El.

Jor-El has been put in front of the UP court and found guilty.

And then this weird, throwaway line. Jor-El created Zaar??

Now we were told Zaar was Kryptonian in a prior issue. Does he have a revenge mission because he was experimented on by Jor-El and feels angry because he was turned into a monster? That doesn't jibe with the 'colonist' bent Zaar had earlier.

Could it be that he is an alien that Jor-El spliced in some Kryptonian genes? That the experiments were against his will making Jor-El a true colonizer, abusing the indigenous people. And then Zaar was made into a monster and wants to lash out at the invaders?

I don't know if I quite understand it. And I can only hope it is explained.

 Jor-El is found guilty for all the crimes he has committed.

Punishment, to be sent back to the moment Krypton exploded and die.

I am torn about this moment.

I love that the angry, disturbed Jor-El can pause and be proud of his son for unifying the universe. He can tell his younger self.

But then the timey-wimey of this gets heavy. Does this young Jor-El then blip away because of Dr. Manhattan? If so, shouldn't he remember seeing his older self? Or is this Jor-El from some different timeline??

I'm all confused.

Brian Michael Bendis!! Help me!!!

At the very least, evil Jor-El is officially off the table moving forward. I have to be happy.

And nice to so Peterson on this page.

 And then one more great moment.

The Zod clan are still free. So what now?

For once, Zod seems truly inspired by Superman and does things right.

He is going to set up a New Krypton, an outpost, built through reparations from the UP for the Circle's role in Krypton's destruction.

Zod doesn't want to conquer. He doesn't want to rule. He wants to build something that the future generations of Krypton can be proud of.

Don't gloss over Supergirl's words here. She is all young sass telling Zod that they fight him because Zod does things that need to be fought. It isn't a grudge, it's justice.

But Zod ... doing the right thing? Amazing.

I am not surprised that Superman embraces this new Zod.

He asks him to not abuse the name of Krypton, to build something worthwhile.

This is the true power of Superman, to inspire someone as black-hearted as Zod to veer to the light.

The saga ends with Jon contemplating going to the future with the Legion and the El clan flying back to Earth. Of course, in the Supergirl book she teleports back. So those scenes don't jibe. But that is a small quibble. I actually prefer the idea of the family flying back together.

So what can I say other than 'wow'.

There was so much to love in this saga and in this conclusion in particular.
It is because of issues like this that I still read comics. So that I can still be inspired.

Overall grade: A+


Martin Gray said...

What can I say but I agree with your enthusiasm - what a terrific ending! And the Super Sons next time, yay!

Great review.

Anonymous said...

You covered all the heartfelt stuff - I loved the comedy too.

It's nice to have an interlude between all the axe-wielding furious hacking and the upcoming Jokerization, in which Kara can be so funny. Has she ever before been written as a smart aleck, or is this another Bendis first? Who knew she could be funny?

I don't see why we can't have more dialog like this:

"Hi, Zod!"

"Well, I can't have them rooming with me."

"We all have super hearing. Why does he have to come all the way over here."

"How many babies are you planning on having?"

You could actually really LIKE a sarcastic Supergirl.

(That super-hearing joke - Bendis can only use that joke once, and he gave Supergirl the line. Yes!)

The whole issue was full of emotion, but also full of humor.

Love the ensemble comedy where the Legion frets over whether they miscalculated the time:

"Should we go away and come back?

"Is this some kind of primate earth theater humor?"

(Actually - yes, that is exactly what Bendis is writing!)

"If you're from the future, don't you already know what I say?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do YOU mean?"

This is a great way to deal with the absurdity of time travel - just turn it into comedy. (Or, into something bittersweet, when Jor-El returns to Krypton and addresses Jor-El and Lara in their last moments.)

Maybe that's a little hint from Bendis - ask him what happens with the Jor-El time travel paradox you mentioned, and with a glint in his eye he'll answer "What do you mean?"

Then there is the red helmeted guy who whispers to Jon "Can you introduce me to your aunt?" Hah!

So, this issue had everything.


William Ashley Vaughan said...

I also like the fact that Superman didn't just let Jon go flying off with the Legion. I am hoping that the status quo with Jon and the Legion will be the same as the original Superboy's-living in the present and only visiting the future.