Monday, November 18, 2019

Review: Superman #17

Superman #17 came out last week, a sort of epilogue to the Unity Saga and a prologue to the upcoming Truth arc. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is joined by artist Kevin Maguire to bring this sort of transition issue.

This ends up being a character issue as we see Superman's response to all the recent events in his life by reaching out to his support system. It humanizes Superman a bit as we see just how much he has been affected by recent events in his life.

Not to say there isn't some plot progression. This is the year of the villain after all. And someone I have been suspicious of I am even more suspicious of.

But I might be burying the lede. The highlight of this issue is Maguire's art. We all know that Maguire is a master of expressive art. But this issue stands out even among his own work. The emotional weight of the scenes are played out on the characters' faces. Erase the words and you still get the perfect sense of what the characters are feeling. Just brilliant stuff.

Now I don't know if I am on board with The Truth arc, yet another look at Superman revealing his secret identity to the world. But I liked this prologue.

The book starts with Superman stopping an intergalactic war by stepping in between the combatants.

He heads back to Earth where he finds Lois stewing a bit. She has been contemplating the box that Lex Luthor gave to her as part of his villainous offers during this Year of the Villain.

I do love the little barbs the two exchange here. Lois wanting to publish the story of the space battle and then complaining about how Clark will get the by line.

When Superman learns about the Luthor box (one he can't peek into due to its lead composition), he decides a Lois talk needs to happen.

But before moving on, he does a quick scan of the world to make sure all is well. There doesn't seem to be anything major going down so his time is free.

This is a great representation of his super-senses. And I love some of the scenes he peeks in on. Aquaman trying to get water out of his ear is riotous. But I especially loved Supergirl cuddling Krypto.

Interestingly enough, Lois won't tell him what is in the box, she won't let Superman look into the box, and does she want him to help her deal with it. He has enough on his plate and she is strong enough to deal with it on her own.

And she does lay it out. Superman is still reeling a bit from aftermath of Jor-El's evil ways. (It is implied that the trade war Superman thwarted at the beginning was somehow his father's fault.) And his son has left this time.

Superman needs to ignore this Lex problem. Luthor is probably goading him with this. The best thing to do is let Lois deal.

And then we get a hint. It isn't a weapon. It is something she has to publish. That makes me think it is information. Not an object. So what could it be?

 And while Lois is reeling from the death of her own father, she is still in a better state than Clark to deal with Lex.

I loved how this scene closes, with the two going off flying together.

The offer by Clark. The pensive look on Lois' face. The pleading eyes of Superman. And then her stepping on his feet, the accepting of the invitation. That is just amazing work by Maguire. Amazing.

 Another plot that has been simmering is how S.T.A.R. Labs has been acting a bit more unsavory recently.  And that has been spearheaded by Dr. Glory.

STAR has a stealth site, buried underground and basically cloaked. There, Glory tells a board that this is the Labs opportunity to take advantage of  the multiverses of the multiverse. She wants to pillage .. or maybe send Superman off to another reality.

But before they can get far, Superman arrives, floating above the site with his arms crossed and looking surly. Picture that feel of Superman when he said 'General, would you care to step outside?'

It is enough to make the average S.T.A.R. worker panic. I love the variety of responses.

But Glory is surprised how Superman hasn't acted.

 The workers basically open the doors and give up. In an interesting turn of the phrase, it sounds like Glory might be really be someone else. No doubt, with that name, she has to have some time to Apokolips. Unfortunately, she teleports/portals/boom tubes away.

So that plotline is settled, a least a little.

 Superman then heads to his cousin and has her join him looking in on New Krypton.

It is hinted that Zod and Kara have unlocked how Kryptonian senses can figure out moods or emotions. Somehow Superman hasn't.

Supergirl comes across as great in this whole back half of the book.

She tells Zod that she was letting Superman work out the senses thing on his own.

Second, she won't just forget Zod's past. They aren't friends. It'll take a little more time for her defenses to lower completely.

That is good stuff.

The Superman opens up. He is going to do something (we know it is reveal his secret identity). It will impact her. Does she want to know.

I love the cousin's interaction here. It feels like happy family and that makes me happy. He wants her to know. She initially teases but then admits she wants to know. Her body language is great. I do wonder how much this will impact Kara Danvers. In theory she has no connection to Clark.

And I like how Maguire draws the costume. That is a narrow belt making this pretty much a Silver Age look.

Great cousin scene.

I liked this issue a lot. Some of that might be because I am sort of dreading the upcoming arc so I am hanging on to this reality as much as possible. I like character moments and this issue was chock full. And the art is glittery.

Plus, great Supergirl.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Top review, as ever. Interesting interpretation of the Kara/Zod exchange - I read that as meaning they could detect how a person was feeling by zoning in on their physiological responses. I like your version better!

So who are you suspicious of, Zod?

Anj said...

I wondered if she was talking about her ability to use heart rate as a marker of emotion. But I figured he'd know that by now.

Since Bendis had Superman be able to grow a beard and alter his appearance via powers, I just assumed it might be something more.

As for suspicions, Dr. Glory has to be someone from Apokolips, no?

Martin Gray said...

Thanks very much. I wondered if Dr Godfrey might be glorious, the teleportation makes it more likely... maybe she's the usual fella's sister, hence the different MO.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the senses thing, I thought Zod was being a wise-guy and trying to enlist Kara into agreeing with him, but she cut him off and curtly dismissed him.

"I let him work it out for himself" reads to me like "Mind your own business." And then she immediately told him she's not ready to be his buddy - a comment that was probably triggered by this snide comment of Zod's.

I do find some Bendis dialog to be challenging, because he employs a lot more sarcasm than most writers do.

Or, maybe you're right - maybe Zod and Kara really do have a super-sensing skill Kal doesn't have or hasn't figured out. But how likely is that?


Aaron Ramos said...

I'd have to go double check, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Superman's identity still a secret in Doomsday Clock? So if he reveals it now its going to have to be undone since that takes place in the future.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I've felt better about the secret identity reveal since Bendis made it clear that Clark Kent is still going to be around. I think Bendis is of the school that holds that Superman is a disguise worn by Clark Kent and not the other way around. I can't wait to see Perry White's reaction to finding out who Clark Kent really is, assuming he doesn't already know.

Ben said...

So help me, if they have Evil Supergirl do something truly vile like kick Krypto just for the hell of it, I'm going to turn into the Dark Multiverse version of myself and pay the Snyder/Tynion horror duo a little visit Jack Torrance-style.