Monday, May 17, 2021

Review: Superman #31

Superman #31 came out last week, the next chapter in the Shadowbreed storyline by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski.

The overarching theme of father/son relationships has been heavy in Johnson's plots from the beginning. We have seen Superman's love for Jon, watching him try to hold on to his young son while letting him grow up. And we have seen Jon's love for Superman, coming to terms with the realization of his father's mortality. But the relationship is one of love and mutual respect. It is one of support and caring.

This issue we see the other side of the coin, what comes out of a father/son relationship gone wrong and the toxic outcome of such a thing. 

There is also the plot of the Shadowbreed. I don't exactly know what the Shadowbreed is exactly. But it seems to be a living organism that Superman is all to eager to wipe out. I don't know if there is a strict 'no killing' rule with Superman these days but this has me scratching my chin.

Scott Godlewski is on art again. He is inked on some pages by Norm Rapmund. The art is fine but the different inking styles are clear. It is jarring. But Godlewski does make this place quite alien.

On to the book.

Jon gives us text boxes to describe Jon and Clark dealing with their respective perceptions and worries.

Here Superman recognizes that the Legion's future describes him as someone who knew everything and had done everything. But that is undeserved. 

I like the humanity and humility has in this response. But he should know he is a hero of legend.

After realizing the Shadowbreed was back they break into Faldr Poornam's room. Clark and Jon discover that Faldr is posessed by the Breed.

I do like this description of Faldr almost still aware of what is going. 'Scream helplessly within the halls of his own mind' is a nice line.

And the scarred eyes and black flame aura is a nice artistic rendition.

Luckily, our heroes can grab Qarath O Daanim before he is possessed. In that skirmish, Jon used his heat vision to cause an explosion and scatter the Shadowbreed. At first this seemed confusing because we know the parasites feed on light and heat energy. But Jon gives us an explanation. He sort of explodes water molecules with his heat vision now for a concussive blast. That's an interesting new power.

But more interesting is the discussion of the breed. They scavenged off the corpse of the thing that fell to the world. But now they inhabit living things.

So is the Shadowbreed alive? Parasites that invade? Astral beings that possess? 

And if Superman detonates a bomb designed for them, is he killing them? This is my biggest question.

O Daanim feels he can go back to Faldr's lab and build a new bomb.

Superman says he'll warn the citizens of the Shadowbreed while Jon heads to the lab.

On the way we get a nice look at the two different father son relationships.

Jon worries that he will be less than his parents. But he knows that Superman is the best of all people, irreplaceable. Clark IS Superman. Jon will strive to be like him. 

Meanwhile, O Daanim talks about how he shamed his father by being weak. O Daanim can't be like his father. Their stories and lives are too different.

Two very different father son relationships here, something for us to chew on as readers.

Alas, Superman is too late. 

The Shadowbreed have basically taken over the population. They will feed on this race and become sttonger.

Again, Superman talks about them being parasites. He says he will free these people. But the methods all seem to be lethal weapons. 

Am I missing something here? Am I overthinking it?

But if these ordinary people are food, Superman is superfood. The Shadowbreed has a chunk of the population throw themselves off a cliff like lemmings.

While Superman tries to save as many as he can, the Shadowbreed itself tries to possess him. 

The page is nicely constructed, with panels slowly tilting, showing us Superman falling, succumbing. 

But Superman thankfully hears Jon's heartbeat. He has faith that his son will save them. Again, very different from Daanim's life.

And then we see that O Daanim is corrupt, working in cahoots with the Shadowbreed. 

I guess when you feel unworthy or feel ridiculed, it leads to contempt. And that contempt I suppose can lead to murderous intent.

Loving supportive relationships lead to healthy relationships. Toxic relationships lead to pain and death.

Jon is able to escape Daanim's clutches and head to ty and save Superman.

But the book ends with the giant alien carcass the Shadowbreed had fed on suddenly rising.

Is Jon causing this? Was this thing not really dead, just comatose because of the Shadowbreed parasite burden? But now with them gone, he has revived?

I thought this was an okay issue. But I don't find the plot too compelling. And the father/son theme isn't different from one issue to the next so feels a bit repetitive.

I am intrigued how it all gets solved in the end.

Overall grade: C+

1 comment:

  1. Great job, Anj. I think you know I’m pretty tired of the father and son bit... I wish Jon would think about his Mom more, it’s not like she isn’t awesome too.

    Ah well, the father and son bit will be less prominent, presumably, as Jon kicks Superman out of his back and gets the latest renumbering.

    Bring back Tomasi and Gleason!