Friday, July 21, 2023

Review: Knight Terrors: Superman

 Dawn of DC seemed to be firing on all cylinders, at least the books I was reading and I felt like the DCU was finally picking up some momentum. So when Knight Terrors, a 2 month cross-company horror based event that no one asked for, was announced I worried. It seemed like all this was going to do was pump the brakes on some titles that were really clicking. In particular, for this site, both Superman and Action Comics are solid right now. Do I need a break?

Knight Terrors: Superman #1 came out this week and I have to say allayed a few of my fears. You can think about these books in two ways. 

One, you can think about the main title. A villain named Insomnia is wandering through hero's nightmares looking for the Nightmare Stone to rule the world. Frankly, I don't care. I am not sure if this is going to impact anything in such a way that it warrants a two month mega-block.

But the other way you can look at this is it allows creative teams to take a hard look at the title characters. If each book is going to be a deep dive into character's fears, it gives the creators some room to explore. It gives the reader a sense of what the creators think of their charges. We are just seeing what writer Joshua Williamson thinks of Superman in that book. So why not have us see 'under the hood' as it were, learning what Williamson thinks is Superman's greatest fears. We learn it is being alone. And that is interesting. We know family is important to Clark. He loves his world. He loves his friends. Of course, isolation would be terrifying. 

Add to that a major Supergirl subplot and Williamson has created a book that I very much enjoyed as a Superman fan. I don't know if I am a Knight Terrors fan ... yet. But this worked.

Gleb Melnikov gives us a moody cover of Superman of Superman falling through the night sky. Tom Reilly does the inside art and  nails it. Reilly has a sort of Chris Samnee/Michael Cho classic feel to the proceedings. Things are scary when they should be. But his inclusion of some classic DC images made me smile. And, of course, the Supergirl stuff is great. 

So far so good here. On to the details.

Superman was aware of the whole event because of the investigation of Dr. Destiny's death in the prologue. He heads to SuperCorp to have their supernatural oneirologists investigate. A tech company with supernatural dream interpreters? I want that job. I bet they're on Twitter all the time waiting for a job.

But en route he gets attacked, falling from the sky and entering a dreamscape where He talks to his friends about Superman saving the world.

I love the fact that in reality we have multiple panels of Superman falling from the sky. Moody colors, black bird shadows ... that all screams horror movie. And then contrasted to the bright color, Silver Age feel to the Daily Planet dream. I mean, Lois is in super-garb and a witch outfit right out of her books in the fifties. So this isn't a nightmare quite yet. 

Loved this.

But I really liked that Superman isn't being fooled. He knows this world where Lex is helping is wrong.

I do love that he is puzzling it out already, thinking about a Black Mercy attack. So great.

And the art, as I said, feels very classic.

But then we learn that fear that Superman is going to outlive everyone. He ultimately is going to be alone. That is his fear.

Here we see him standing on a pile of skulls. It is almost Snyder-esque in its imagery. I wonder if that was on purpose. 

Have to again compliment Nathan Fairbairn's colors. The contrast from bright sunny to moody and terrifying works. Here the reds invoke a post-apocalypse inferno. 

Now Insomnia showed up and left. We then meet this sort of Grim Reaper wielding a scythe and in an S-shield. It is nightmarish version of Superma himself called 'The Man of Screams'. He looks like a mix of Death, a dark angel, and the Batman who Laughs. Hopefully this isn't some new long-lasting character. Let him disappear after Knight Terrors.

It is this Man of Screams who tells Superman his greatest fear ... being alone. Now that is interesting. That is a nugget for Williamson to explore. And given how big the Super-family is, how they are all together all the time in the Kent apartment sort of riffs on that.

But immediately after saying he will be alone, Superman is reminded he isn't alone. Because Kara is there.

I love that Williamson has it be Supergirl here. She is important to Clark and the family.

She is in her own nightmare and somehow punches through into Superman's. 

I love that top panel. There is a lot of energy in that panel, a lot of power.

And the two immediately hug in support. 

These are the super-cousins. They should be close.

And then this moment.

Supergirl is running from her nightmares ... different versions of herself. 

I mean, as a Supergirl fan, this was horrifying and tremendous at the same time. We have so many versions of Supergirl here. The Silver Age, the Bronze Age holter top costume, the Crisis era, the 04 Turner super-tiny belly shirt reboot, the Linda Danvers white shirt costume, even the Red Lantern! Maybe, if I squint, I see a Woman of Tomorrow pantsuit.

Basically, we have a major Supergirl plot rolling out in this book and I love it. For Clark, the biggest fear is being alone. For Kara, it is probably trying to figure out who she is in the world. 

I love this panel and I love this plot. Reilly brings it here ... all the costumes, all the creepiness!

So if Superman the title is going on pause for 2 months but we get a deep dive into the super-cousins personalities, I am happy. I really liked this.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Very nuanced review, you’re so right about this comic, what a surprise treat. I especially liked that the Super-Cousins have the strength to see through the illusions, heck, Supergirl can punch her way into Superman’s dream. Who says they’re not close?

I love the art so much. More please!

Martin Gray said...

Oh, and those last two pages, I never saw THAT coming.

Anonymous said...

But did they have to throw poor "hot pants Supergirl" under the bus as a zombie??? What is Kurrent Kara embarrassed by her numerous prior incarnations and configurations?? She'd rather be Cir-El? :)
Kidding , a fun read is a fun read, this Supergirl seems like a real "kick in the head" and I mean that in a good way.
and FINALLY someone figured out a away to "go dark" on Superman without really "going dark"...


Anonymous said...

Story was great. Supergirl zombies? Meh Just have a feeling they are going to use this as an excuse to crap on past versions of Supergirl

Anonymous said...

Unless these happen to be merely nightmares out of whole cloth and not dreams based on actual memories of the prior Supergirls, the thing I like is that those old versions of Supergirl would now be established as in continuity.

Many are hard for me to see and hard for me to place, but here are a few others I spotted:

Earth Angel - with fiery wings, at the bottom.

New 52 - not just the Black Lantern version, but the "regular" version, on the left below Michael Turner's, recognizable by the bottom of her suit.

Rebirth Supergirl - very hard to see, but the faded one just to the right of Linda Danver's right hip, you can see the one with the seam running down the center of her top, which is what she was wearing in the first part of the Rebirth series (the part before the space travels).

Overall I loved Tom Reilly's retro art in this book. It was a quick read, but a decent story. Better than most of the Knight Terrors so far.