Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, Jason Fabok
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Cover by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
“See if I Can Paint for You The Large Picture”
KRANG! KRAANG! KRAAANG! KRIINK! Bendis is coming!
KRANG! KRAANG! KRAAANG! KRAAK! Bendis is coming!
KRANG! KRAANG! KRAAANG! KROOM! Bendis is HERE!!!
The time has finally arrived. Six months ago DC Comics and the Eisner award-winning industry titan Brian Michael Bendis announced a six-issue miniseries to relaunch The Man of Steel. Bendis has established his legacy as an innovative mover and shaker of establishment characters. He has received five Eisner awards (one for Best New Series and two for Best Writer), four Wizard awards, and three Comics Buyer’s Guide awards.
With accolades like these, it’s no wonder why Bendis has received both the reigns and blessings of longtime Super-scribes like Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, and the Man of Tomorrow himself Dan Jurgens.
While DC has rolled out the red carpet for Bendis (billing a massive two page ad spread in every current title, sending him on the gauntlet press-run, and giving him both ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN monthly titles), many classic fans and retailers alike are waiting to exhale on whether or not Bendis will erase or keep the new classic Rebirth Superman and his new family Lois and Jon, together whom many are beginning to love. One thing is for certain, although Bendis’ arrival marks the end of the DC’s Rebirth era, a new arrival to the DC landscape hasn’t set off an uproar this explosive since the arrival of Doomsday.
This all-new adventure kicks off with a flashback to an ancient Krypton orbiting a red supergiant sun from a time long forgotten. Somewhere deep in the heart of the planet, Rogol Zaar berates a set of five floating blue heads—known as the “council”—for ignoring his warning against the rising tide of imperialism spreading across the galaxy. He warns that these conquerors will prey on vulnerable planets for profit and scientific supremacy. Who is the source behind this contagion of C.R.E.A.M. spreading across the galaxy? The answer is sure to send shockwaves across the DC universe.
Meanwhile, in the current timeline, Superman swoops in to save a woman from a burning apartment high rise. Then in one massively deep breath, he inhales the flames that engulfed the towering high rise and exhales while floating high above in the Metropolis sky. He later discovers this was the latest in a recent rash of fires across the city and that the cause of the blaze was not electrical, as he initially thought, but rather that it was arson related. Later, he returns to the Daily Planet and gets Perry White’s approval to investigate the cause of the arson ring. After a long hard day of work, Clark returns home for some much-needed family-time only to have the evening interrupted by a blinding flash of white light. What mysteries does this light hold? Where did it come from? and more importantly, what happened to Lois and Jon?
The Plot of the Panel
Let’s begin with the introduction to the new anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist villain—Rogol Zaar—and the new Quintessence(???) Rogol Zaar seems like your average run-of-the-mill-villain. He’s angry at something (I can’t tell what). He hates an entire race of people (on general principle). He believes his cause is righteous (which from his point of view justifies his desire to kill).
Galactic corporate colonizers aside, there were issues with the plot that seem to overwhelm and stretch my suspension of disbelief beyond elasticity. Immediately, the team-ups seem telegraphed, rather subtle and organic. Bendis has explained across several interviews and comic news outlets that his take on The Man of Steel will involve team-ups. However, he has yet to give any clue as to who made the shortlist. Yet, when two Gotham-based super-villains show up in Metropolis, readers can rest assured knowing the Dark Knight is soon to follow. Killer Moth and Firefly seem to serve that singular purpose so far in the story.
The dialogue and narration at times seemed to move very fluidly. But overall, it tended to shift back and forth from focused and coherent to disconnected and distracting. For example, as Superman narrates his rescue of one of the tenants he randomly narrates,“fire is fire”; or as one firefighter says to Supes, “This thing isn’t cooperating. Hate to bother you, but is there anything you can do Superman?” The disconnect: What is that “thing?” The firehose? How does that not work right? Aren’t they there to put out the fire? Moments of narration and dialogue like these are sprinkled throughout the issue.
On the other hand, the visuals and colors easily overpower the story to become the primary narrative vehicle in this issue. Reis and Prado’s realism of Metropolis life in actuality brings the background details to the attention of both classic and new readers alike. They provide stunning splash pages that depict Superman flying majestically through Metropolis enshrouded like an aura of glowing city lights. The structured linearity and heavy angles of the Metropolis skyline; the almost 3D symbol of the house of El across Supes’ chest; and bold colors provide a subtle balance with the Bendis’ carefree loosely grounded plot.