Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Josh Reed
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair
When we last left our hero, he was stuck in the Phantom Zone, after helping the Justice League get Earth out of the Phantom Zone.
I’ve always been a little cynical about the stories where the hero teams up with one of the members of his or her rogues’ gallery. Often, it seems contrived, and not something that would necessarily make sense for either character. However, the setup in the recent weeks for the big Superman and Zod team-up has provided enough motive for both parties for it to be plausible, even necessary, since Rogol Zaar may or may not have committed genocide against the planet from which both Superman and Zod hail.
The book opens with Clark watching the clash between Zod and Zaar, with Bendis choosing to minimize dialogue and instead allowing the reader to get inside Clark’s head with his internal monologue. This is something that he has done in the previous issues, and something that I very much enjoyed. I liked the conversation Bendis recounted between Lois and Clark early on in their relationship—I would prefer her to actually be in the story, but it’s good to know that he hasn’t forgotten about her.
Clark is understandably conflicted on what to do about the fight. On one hand, Zod is a dangerous intergalactic criminal who tried to stage a coup on Krypton and would have no qualms with laying siege to Earth either. On the other hand, Zaar has proven how dangerous he is as well. Clark doesn’t know if he was really responsible for the destruction of Krypton, but what he does know is that he mercilessly murdered the Kandorians. It is with that in mind that Clark finally makes the decision to help Zod, striking Zaar with the cry, “For Kandor!” I loved this moment. It was emotional, epic, and ultimately, classic Superman. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the outcome of this rematch, as Clark was transported back to Earth by Ray Palmer and Adam Strange.
Clark asks them to send him back, but Martian Manhunter informs him that the San Andreas Fault has been disrupted by the Phantom Zone Event. I found this to be a nice nod to Superman: The Movie. Clark reluctantly flies off to help. Meanwhile, Rogol Zaar is using Zod as a punching bag, while the other Phantom Zone prisoners cheer him on. As they shout his name, Zaar insists that this is not his victory, but theirs as well, and the other prisoners follow him as he drags a battered Zod through the Phantom Zone.
Back on Earth, Clark comes to the realization that he needs to speak with Jor-El to find out the truth about Rogol Zaar. Jor-El also, of course, knows where his son Jon is. The very last page of the issue, Jon appears behind Clark, greeting him and asking him not to freak out, since he appears to have aged into a young adult.
This was an enjoyable issue for the most part. The art was fantastic. One of the highlights for me was seeing Clark rescue people in California after returning to Earth. Bendis has a good grasp on what makes Clark tick, despite my misgivings about the overall plot he has chosen to write. His strongest moments are when he delves into Clark’s character and motivations—I liked seeing him struggle over whether or not to help Zod and choosing to come to his defense in the Phantom Zone. I wish we could have seen Zod’s reaction, but I suspect that the pair will meet again at some point.
I have my reservations about Jon’s return. While one of my concerns about both of the titles is the absence of Clark’s family, including his son, I am not at all enthused by the prospect of aging up a ten-year-old boy who has a successful book of his own that draws in the younger readers that DC Comics is desperate to attract. However, I realize that this was partially done for shock value, and information is purposefully being withheld from the reader for the purpose of creating suspense. Still, I very much hope that this is temporary, and that Jon is back to his happy go lucky self soon. Jon Kent is a wonderful character that captures the younger demographic, and to turn him into an angsty teenage superhero along the lines of Conner Kent is not at all what I would like to see in the future, but I’m just as curious as everyone else to see where this goes.