Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Kevin Maguire
Jason Fabok (pg. 12-13)
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Cover by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Back Back Back It Up
Zaar finally arrived on Earth to enact his 30+ year-long plan of complete Kryptonian genocide. Starting at the last bastion of Kryptonian culture in the universe—the Fortress of Solitude—Zaar began his robbery and assault, bare-faced no ski-mask! Zaar evaded the Fortress’ defenses (dismantling Kelex in the mix) and laid waste to the Bottled City of Kandor. Following the trail of destruction left behind by Zaar, The Man of Steel headed to Metropolis where Zaar lurked in the shadows and waited for the perfect moment to spring his trap.
Well, it wasn’t much of a “trap”, per se! This issue largely promises a good old fashioned beat down atop the Metropolis skyline delivered straight to Zaar’s front door fresh from the House of El. However, it quickly shifts into what my dad would aptly term as “an Eastside ass-kicking.” Readers who picked up Action Comics 1000 can bear witness to said “kicking” in the last feature, which announced Bendis’ arrival to the DC Nation. After Zaar mops up Superman, Green Lantern sweeps up the mess on the streets. The Man of Steel regains consciousness and heads back immediately to the Fortress to “call someone.” But who? And where are Lois and Jon? Will Zaar get them next? The results of this issue are sure to be explosive!
Plot of the Panel
The Man of Steel miniseries continues to deliver consistent and compelling artwork. Former Justice League International artist and 27 year DC veteran, Kevin Maguire’s layouts and panel configurations provide readers with exciting action sequences that amplify the character development and plot. Maguire opens with an amazing splash page of Supes and Zaar exchanging blows so powerful they shatter the windows of surrounding skyscrapers and send shockwaves across downtown Metropolis (eery echoes of the first Superman/Doomsday encounter).
Throughout the fight, Maguire draws readers’ into the slobber-knocker-slug-and-plasma-cannon-fest with detail/close-ups of Zaar’s two-toned eyes—one blue, the other red. I’m not sure if Maguire is trying to foreshadow some hidden inner-conflict on Zaar’s horizon or trying to establish a villainous effect. Either way, Maguire’s emphasis on Zaar’s dual-colored eyes draws readers into the fractured psyche of a genocidal maniac, driven by revenge. I also love Maguire’s take on Superman’s x-ray vision eyes; the sclera, pupil, and iris glow in all blue. This is a cool contrast to the usual red glow that comes before a burst of heat-vision. It’s refreshing to see how a little drop of color can reenergize the dramatic effect of such a classic power.
On the other hand, I’m less impressed (more distracted) by the extra-strength Jay Leno jawline that Maguire seems to favor in this issue–especially Superman, Zaar, and Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. Clearly the former Superman/Batman artist favors a vintage Golden Era Superman. While Superman and Zaar are locked in an epic ‘Game of Chins,’ Green Lantern (whom I assume is Hal Jordan even though his haircut put about 20 years on him) directs bystanders to safety. Why did they make Hal look like a different person in almost each frame? “Artistic freedom”, maybe???
Merits of artistic freedom aside, one of Maguire’s strengths throughout this issue was his use of long-strip sequential action panels. It flows in-sync with Superman’s inner dialogue. In short, these are the moments where the story arc came alive for me. My readerly-self lives and dies by a story arc’s character development, plot structure, and writerly voice; but Maguire’s art reminds me that images can tell a story too.