Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: Superman #26

Superman #26 came out this week and was another example of why I will miss Brian Michael Bendis when he is off the Superman books. Because this one had it all. Clark and Lois moments. Huge action superhero sequences. A scene with Jimmy. A scene with in the Daily Planet pit. A scene in the Fortress. And all the time showcasing why Superman is simply the inspiration the world need.

If you want a primer on what a Superman issue should be, this is a pretty good one.

All good things must come to an end.

Now the main plot line here is the Synmar Utopica coming to Earth to fight Superman. I am not sure I quite understand the motivations behind this. It could be that he assumes it was Superman who killed the Synmar council last issue. But I also wonder if it is that Utopica looks at Superman as what he should be and hates himself for it. And the best way to deal with hate is to transfer it.

Of course, we know Superman didn't kill the council. Which leaves the real unanswered question ... who did? And is that threat around the corner?  Are we going to see Superman and Utopica team up in the end to fight a bigger enemy? That is about as classic a comic book trope as there is.

Ivan Reis and Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair continue to dazzle on art. The pencils and ink are tight. And whether we are in the bedroom or the boardroom or the Phantom Zone, it all looks crisp and slick. Sinclair's colors go from the dim lighting of the nighttime apartment to the dazzling reds and yellows of Utopica's skin and just makes the art sing.

This is a middle chapter and it did what I need a middle chapter to do. It moved the plot along. And it made me want more immediately.

On to the book!

We get dropped into a fight on the first page. 

So interesting to hear Superman's thoughts as he is trying to figure out why Utpoica is attacking him.

But the line that got me was Superman 'opening his mind' to a psychic or telepathic conversation. I suppose a yellow sun juiced Kryptonian mind probably has innate mental defenses. So his needing to be actively receptive to this is interesting.

But then we head back into the past. 

Remember Superman has just talked to Dr. Fate about how the recent events of his life are innumerable and huge. 

In his apartment, Lois wakes from a nightmare about Checkmate. (I only hope this means the Leviathan:Checkmate mini-series is around the corner.)

Superman talks about how while his life has stress he has never really felt it. And the reason why he hasn't crumpled is Lois.

Just fantastic. 

I don't know if I quite understood why the two were living separately so long early in Bendis' run. But now that they are back together, I have like his portrayal of them.

And the art here, the movement of the camera around the couple, the lighting of this nighttime apartment, is all great.

Unfortunately, Superman is called away to the Fortress where Kelex warns Superman that someone or something is headed to Earth ... to the Fortress specifically ... and will be there in 14 hours. 

This unknown presence acknowledged, Superman heads back to Metropolis. 

Weirdly, Jimmy Olsen is crashing at the Fortress. Did we know he was there?

I do love his gag about Superman wanting his secret identity back. How long did it last the last time before Rebirth reset things? A couple of months?

Back at the Daily Planet, people are still a bit reeling from the reveal that Clark is Superman. People are asking why he is in a shirt and tie. People are afraid that he will bring attacks to the newspaper. (I love how Clark says that villains have always known the Planet was special to him.)

As always, Bendis does well with dialogue and personal moments. I love how Superman apologizes for his somewhat antagonistic relationship with Steve Lombard. He really considers Lombard a friend. 

Lombard's expression is priceless. He is floored by this.

And then some humor.

The thing heading to the Fortress has changed direction and is on a beeline for The Planet.

A classic shirt rip later (great image) and Superman is streaking away.

I did love this bit of humor where Lombard realizes that the ties he found in the supply room were probably Clark's as he was flying off as Superman in the past.


We know that this fight will eventually head to Metropolis given the opening splash.

But I liked this preamble.

Superman now knows this thing is heading to him. So why not meet halfway. 

Because if it is a nice meeting, he can  greet them. But if it is for a fight, he is far away from people.

The first panel, a determined Superman streaking in space is just great.

And the last panel showing the impending collision, the words in the middle, is great.

And then this moment.

Utopica comes out of the ship.

And Superman is floored about the newness of this being. This is a new species from points unknown. He is legitimately excited. 

His stance, arms up palms out, screams 'I don't want to fight'. 

I guess I like how he thinks the best, prepares for the worst, and is naturally curious.

Of course, Utopica is there to fight.

The two brawl in space and plummet to Earth. It looks like they will crash into the Daily Planet. Earlier, Clark talked about how he had put defenses in place for the building. We see one activated.

If anything was heading to the Planet with the intention of crashing into the building, Clark could activate Kelex to send that thing to the Phantom Zone. Here, the projectile is the Superman/Utopica donnybrook.

Suddenly the two of them are in the Zone. And despite Superman trying in all ways to communicate why he doesn't want to fight, Utopica presses on. 

I do like the weirdness of Utopica's look. His colors are brilliant.  I don't quite know his powerset. But I like him as a sort of dark reflection of Superman, a mantle thrust on him rather than grabbed.

But the joy here was that apartment scene, the Planet scene, and that Jimmy joke. And a Checkmate referece! All is well!

Overall grade:


Martin Gray said...

Great review, yes, there’s so much to like about this issue. It’s interesting how Steve Lombard has wavered in his look since All-Star Superman... this latest is very flattering!

You know who I’d really like Bendis to write before he goes? Classic Maxima? She would be magnificent!

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Ivan Reis is definitely one of the greatest of all Superman artists. His Superman is majestic and inspiring yet touchingly human, everything the character should be.

Have been looking at the articles on the Future State event. Supergirl has her own title and will be guest starring in Jon's title Superman of Metropolis. Plus this appears to be about Supergirl finally fulfilling her full potential as a hero. Even better, the whole Future State event looks like a modern version of the old Silver Age Imaginary Stories in which you would see possible futures of the DC heroes. I always wanted to see someone delve into the idea of Supergirl as Superwoman. In 60 years that possibility for her has never been more than hinted at.

Martin Gray said...

I always liked seeing grown up Supergirl... how many times did they do that? There was Action Comics #270, Superman Family #200.... hmm, what else? Have you done a post on the subject, Anj?

Anonymous said...

And old pal, you are QUOTED in the current issue of TwoMorrow's "Back Issue" #123, there is a short article therein detailing "Supergirl's Secret Marriage" (Superman #415 January 1986)...
Check it out!


Martin Gray said...

How exciting, JF! I only got #122 via my digital subscription a couple of weeks back, usually I get it before the print issues. You’ve been to the future, haven’t you...

Anyway, romance issue #123 sounds great, even if it is reminding us of that horrible, horrible comic.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

There was a grown up Supergirl in the 2 part imaginary story in Action Comics 332 and 333, "How Superwoman Trained Superboy!" and "The Duel Between Superwoman and Superboy!"

The Supergirl stories in Superman Family could be considered stories about a grown up Kara. Having graduated college and working, she's a woman probably in her early 20s by this time, although she continued to be known as Supergirl.

Anj said...

I’ll be covering solicits soon.

For other older Suoergirl stories, Bendis recently aged her in the Legion Millenium miniseries.

And Kelley Puckett told a ‘backwards in time’ story in his last issue, where we saw an older Supergirl.

Jfeer said...

Trust me Our Host is quoted in this issue...


Martin Gray said...

In the spirit of the issue’s theme, I do!

Unknown said...

Continuing to love Bendis on Superman, but I feel like sometimes he is a bit lazy with how he structures his story....the fight during the preamble where Clark is in a ripped up dress shirt doesn't have time to happen when we finally catch up to the fight later in the issue....Bendis has a few sloppy moments like this in the Metropolis Doom arc in Action where it seems like he forgets what he wrote. It's a small thing, but it's a bit frustrating to me, especially when the character work is so darn good!

Anj said...

Perhaps someone knows something I don't.

But if I am mentioned in Back Issue, I will be honored!