Friday, March 13, 2020

Review: Superman #21

Superman #21 came out this week, the fourth chapter in The Truth. The book itself is split into two storylines. First, Superman is in an outer space brawl with Mongul, trying to keep the fledgling UP together. The second is Lois being confronted with the news that Superman declared himself the representative of the Earth in the UP. Both are pretty rollicking threads with great turns.

Brian Michael Bendis again has a good handle on dialogue here. First we have a Superman who worries about how he sounds when he takes charge or angry. That is an interesting little look into his persona and how he wants to be perceived. Just as interesting is Lois' quick switch from being surprised by a question to turning the table deftly and showing how strong her personality is.

Outside of dialogue, the action is well done with good banter. There is a slight deus ex machina that jolts the proceedings. But otherwise the story here is strong.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado really do a great job on the art this issue. From particular pages with narrow vertical panels to show tremendous action to interesting angles in the Lois sides, things are just beautiful. And the cover has a sort of Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 vibe.

On to the book!

We start on a distant alien world under a yellow sun with Superman yelling at Mongul to go home.

It is this forceful, near angry tone that seems to upset Superman. But at times he needs to speak to barbarians this way. Nice little look into Superman.

And this 'blood oath' in the Mongul race is interesting as well. If their life is saved, their is a blood oath for them to listen to the person who saved them. And Superman saved Mongul's life, scooping the tyrant up and flying him away when the UP teamed up to fire on Mongul.

Here is a snippet of one of the two page spreads with those narrow vertical panels, this one with a nice overlaid Mongul/Superman fight.

It really gives the whole proceeding a sped up feel, especially with the panels slowly becoming more narrow. We see in these pages that Superman grabs Mongul and brings him to this planet all while this fistfight keeps going.

Meanwhile, on Earth Bethany Snow of the Daily Star has ambushed Lois with the film clip of Superman naming himself the Earth rep in the UP. Here, that news is sensationalized to be Superman declaring himself King of the World.

What I like is that in the span of one panel, Lois straightens up and takes control of the interview. I will say Lois using the word hysterical is a bit loaded. I thought that word was slowly going out of favor given its origins.

At least Lois clearly states that Superman never has asked to rule anything.

When Lois asks for some professional courtesy and to learn where the video clip came from, Bethany lashes out, and probably appropriately so.

How can Lois, rich enough to be holed up writing a book and bloated with Superman stories fed to her by her husband, as for courtesies? There are going to be some that are going to say Lois' whole Superman career is under question and unethical.

I am telling you, between this and Lois outing Leone, this is going to get ugly.

Back on the planet, Mongul crows how he as won. And takes off! Destroying the UP before it begins was his mission.

The UP races are attacking each other. The whole idea is actually going to backfire and make matters worse. And Superman knows he is in the wrong place. He needs to be there to quell the fighting.

I do like how Superman looks pretty battered here. Superman is bruised and battered. Mongul is tough.

Here is the Deus ex Machina.

Once there, Superman tries his best to stop the fighting and then calls the JLA to help out.

In moments Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and J'onn are there to help. Seems a bit too easy.

Luckily, they see it like I saw it last month. The threat of Mongul probably strengthens the idea, not derail it.

Seeing a Dominator troop helping a Tamaranean soldier to their feet is a good sign.

Oh yeah ... Lois is in trouble at home.

Flying home, Superman takes the time to realize he needs to self-heal and let the JLA take care of that mess. The airline mask metaphor is apt.

But what I like is Superman wearing a Dominator (I think) robe as he flies home. Nothing says 'whole new galaxy' and 'United Planets' than that. Nice little art choice.

Too bad he comes home to see that Mongul has brought Warworld to Earth.


I want to read more now!

Will the UP come to Earth's rescue? Is this how Mongul tries to stop the UP? By giving it a major emergency while the UP is in its infancy?

And don't think that Lois is out of the woods.

The FBI wants her.

I have to say, this was one of those issues where I wish I had the next one in my hands already. Always a good sign.

I definitely liked the idea of the UP actually organizing rather than dissolving in the face of the Mongul attack. But the sneaky 'Warworld to Earth' side threat is a great hook! And Lois being tasked for her ethics is fascinating.

Add to that the really sparkling art and I really liked this issue.

Overall grade: B+


Bostondreams said...

Interesting that Bendis brought in Cameron Chase. I guess after Leviathan, the DEO is no more, so she's now FBI?

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, Chase showing up was a wonderful treat. I may just reread the collection of her series right now.

I don’t think the JL got there immediately, Anj, though the modern refusal to use the likes of ‘Meanwhile’ and ‘Later’ might give that impression. The fighting had ended when Superman called them, they were there to help with the clean-up, and to dampen tempers... Diana the diplomat, J’onn the calm centre could be particularly useful - I’m not convinced J’onn wasn’t using his mental powers there.

Top review!

Anonymous said...

With respect to Chase being in the FBI: I think I recall Alex, on Supergirl TV, identifying herself as an FBI agent a few times. Possibly flashed an ID as well.

Maybe it was a fake ID, and as such it would probably have been legitimately allowed by the FBI as a way to keep the DEO secret. Or maybe it was real, and the DEO has always been a division of the FBI? So maybe any DEO agent is by definition an FBI agent?

If an organization can be run by a man who is all skull and bones with no skin, then we will have to allow just about any org chart.


Bostondreams said...

Good point on the DEO, anon, though she has to know that Lois Lane of all people would likely know who she is and who she actually works for, assuming DEO was still around (but I'm pretty sure it was wiped out by Mark Shaw) :)