Friday, January 24, 2020

Review: Superman #19

Superman #19 came out this week, the second chapter in The Truth and another gripping read by the team of Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis.

The issue opens in the Daily Planet as Superman's friends (or pals as Jimmy keeps correcting) come to grips with the new reality of Clark Kent being Superman. I am glad Bendis gives this topic some time. For a paper that touts itself as the model of integrity, to learn that Superman was among them and that Clark and Lois wrote articles about him is hardly objective. I don't know if I quite understand why Perry does one thing he does there, but the sentiment is nice. And there is a lot to chew over here. I doubt this conversation is over.

The back end begins a new arc with Mongul and the United Planets which shows that isn't going to be as smooth a ride as Superman may have anticipated. Of course, Mongul is a rabble rouser and certainly can bring out the worst in people. And when you have an uneasy alliance between empires, things are hardly stable. I don't mind seeing Superman unleash his full power against bruisers who can take it so I hope we see some brawls.

I don't know if I can praise Ivan Reis any more but his work here moving from quiet office discussions to intergalactic war is exemplary. We have a little bevy of inkers here - Joe Prado, Danny Miki, Julio Fereira, and Oclair Albert. You can see some subtle differences in pages, some look 'softer' than others. But the art still shines.

On to the book.

 The opening page shows us the Daily Planet building demolished. Was this a flash forward? Are we opening with some disaster that has already happened?


This is what the insurance company's envision happening to the Planet now that Superman has outed himself as a Planet employee.

Frankly, I am not surprised by this. The reveal sounds like an open invitation for disaster.

The lawyers are pacing and the reveal is a tricky situation for the Planet higher ups.

And to cover themselves, Perry fires Clark.

This also makes sense to me. Clark was writing Superman articles as an objective reporter when he was simply covering his own actions. Perhaps the Planet rivals can sue them for some odd monopoly.

But then Perry re-hires Clark/Superman.

Perhaps this re-hiring makes it above board in a way. Perry is hiring both identities openly and without lack of information.

But the firing/hiring seemed odd to me. 

 As for the paper, they are leaning into the reveal, using it as an advertisement to bring in new readers. And why not? In this world where newspapers seem to be dying, why not grab this brass ring.

I had to chuckle at this panel.

 It felt like Bendis poking fun at himself given the 'Bendis is Coming' ads that were plastered in DC Comics 2 years ago.

But Perry isn't done.

Now that the truth is out there, Clark doesn't need to lie to cover his Superman activities. For example, missing deadlines.

It turns out that wasn't an act. Clark can be a 'hot mess'.

This was probably my favorite moment in the book.

I also liked how Clark said he purposefully puts typos into his articles so Lois doesn't look so bad. Cute.

And then Clark walks out to the pit.

You might think that some people might be upset by this reveal. Some hard working reporter who never got a Superman exclusive now knows why. Or Superman's presence among them made them a target.

But, instead, the goodness and gratitude of the staff comes out. They all hug Clark for saving their lives and being the hero he is.

Boy ... Superman really is an inspiration!

 And, also suprisingly ... at least to me, there is no immediate super-villain response. The usual suspects are all quiet.

I love how Superman says that this reveal is so shocking that perhaps the villains don't know how to respond. This isn't covered in the super-villain rule book.

Everyone is safe.

I don't know if the Geoff Johns return of the Kents has trickled into the main books yet but Superman should also be thinking about Smallville.

I guess I wasn't expecting this response at all. Maybe I need to be inspired.

 And then, in an almost 'Last Supper' style pic, Superman heads into the Hall of Justice to be greeted by the collective heroes of the worl.

I mean a lot of people are there ... even Harley Quinn.

You know who isn't there?



That seems wrong.

 The back end of the book shows the newly elected representatives of the United Planets setting up shop on their new planetary headquarters.

Of course, the tyrant Mongul isn't happy about this intergalactic congress and shows up to crash. I mean, why would they go this route instead of making him King?

I love Mongul's language here, almost insulted they passed him over.

But the best moment was the Khunds and Dominators starting the 'Look! Up in the sky!' dialogue when Superman shows up to help. Brilliant.

 But the fight between Superman and Mongul isn't quite as one-sided as the recent beatdown Kal gave him in Naomi.

And the members of the alien races present can't seem to get along well enough in this moment of strife to be streamlined.

For example, the Tamaranians can't tell the Dominators what to do!

Okay, if the first threat this 'united' Planets faces leads to this bickering, they are going to need a lot of help.

(As an aside, like the 'puui puui' sound effect.

And even more help once we see that Mongul actually knocks out Superman!

I'll admit that I liked the front half of this issue much more than the back half. But Mongul is usually treated as a punching bag so seeing him actually be a threat was refreshing.

I still think there will be way more fallout on Earth about this reveal but a little 'honeymoon period' seems to make sense as everyone muddles through the right response.

So far, so good.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

I also enjoyed the earth stuff more, but I suppose we need some action.

What would have been interesting would be if, after all the good vibes at the Planet, the book ended with my new fav'rit, Trish Q, immediately taken out by Deathstroke or whoever. That would make Superman think again.

I wonder if Superman asked Kara to go on a mission, we never did see much of the conversation he wanted with her before the reveal, did we?

Professor Feetlebaum said...

At first, I figured that Supergirl was absent from the Hall of Justice scene because she's currently "infected". But Hawkman and Captain Marvel (sorry, I mean Shazam) are there, so....

I imagine Ivan Reis was instructed to draw a group of heroes gathered around Superman and just drew whoever came to mind. But Harley Quinn being there doesn't seem right. Supergirl should have replaced her.

Anonymous said...

According to the text these are the partners, friends, and peers Superman trusts to always tell him the truth. That’s quite the burn from Superman that he trusts Man-Bat and Harley more than his own cousin.

Anonymous said...

I also wondered about who was included and excluded in the Hall of Justice gathering. Bendis responded to someone's question on Twitter:


Is there some backstory to Harley being seated in the Hall of Justice like that?


YES! that entire gang was vetted by @thedcnation editorial. stay tuned! you can see some earlier versions on my insta, ALSO, that scene unfolds in the all new Superman HEROES special coming very soon with insane art by
@maguirekevin @steve_lieber mike perkins and MORE

I didn't notice the related content on this instagram feed.

I really liked the interaction with Trish Q which took me by surprise. And as gossip columnist, she was protecting some snapshots of Lois with Superman? Nice!

The UP is probably moving too fast. Seems they need to create a unified Peacekeeping Force with clear lines of command, along the lines of United Nations forces. Then these interorganization squabbles should gradually resolve.


SimB said...

I agree. Maybe a return of the original L.E.G.I.O.N?