All I see is Superman with glasses on (Superman #18 Comic Review)

Superman #18

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils: Ivan Reis

Inks: Joe Prado

Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Letters: Dave Sharpe

Last issue covered Superman going around questioning if it was time to make a big reveal (he didn’t outright say what it was but anyone following DC news already knew). It was a meandering story of Superman wondering and discussing with people, who already knew about his secret identity. Eventually, Superman seemed to come to the conclusion to out himself as Clark Kent. This comic is all about how people react to the news.

This story is simply Superman telling the world who he is. It opens and closes with his press conference to the world, but jumps back and forth between dialogue he has with personal friends. Adam Strange talks with Superman during a meeting of The United Planets. He learns Superman has a job and a desk and is baffled by this fact. Strange basically highlights the absurdity of Superman being Clark Kent. The comic then covers how Perry White and Jimmy Olsen deal with the news, while eventually catching back up to the press conference at the start of the book. This is a comic all about relationships and how they handle life changing news. 

Tim’s Thoughts
This book is far better than the last one. Superman’s interactions here actually have emotional weight. This is a comic that benefits from Bendis’ “wordy” style. Perry White finding out is done 100% in silence, and is one of the best Superman moments of recent memory. I would put that page up there with anything in All Star Superman. A page like that reminds us that even though the stories don’t always hit, Brian Michael Bendis clearly understands the essence of Superman. The Jimmy Olsen reveal is also a lot of fun and has some great jokes, that are impossible not to smile at. However, all of these great moments are held back by a giant question holding down the story. Why? Why would Clark Kent do this. Bendis attempts to answer the question in the first few pages, but they fail to really sell the motivation. Superman seems to be outing himself because… it makes a good news article? This stunt reeks of The Death of Superman, or his new blue suit. An event, forced on the public, to make people care again. Because it is Superman, and he is a pop culture phenomenon, it makes a catchy headline “Superman loses his secret identity.” And unlike The Death of Superman, it doesn’t seem to have a real thematic purpose, instead it seems more like his bad blue costume redesign. A flash in the pan to be undone, rather than becoming a cornerstone of the character. Bendis wrote a really nice and fun issue, but it is all in service of something that wasn’t earned. I am conflicted on how to feel. There is also the bigger issue with Lex Luthor in the comic not tying together with Justice League or Bendis’ own Action Comics. I am not a stickler for continuity, but they aren’t even attempting to cover the broad strokes.

Ivan Reis is incredible as always. The aforementioned Perry White page is an example of perfect storytelling by Reis. In one page he is able to explain the relationship of Clark and White in his art alone (of course helped by Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair). You don’t need any context and you will still get it. His United Planets shows all alien life diverse and believable. Bendis’ relationship heavy script would fall flat under most artists, but Reis keeps things simultaneously grounded and dynamic. While I have issues with the story, I have nothing but praise for the artistic team that worked on this beautiful issue. It elevated every aspect of the comic. 

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Superman telling the world he is Clark Kent is a shallow gimmick. But this pivotal issue is really well written and hard to dislike. While the general idea of the comic still has not been "sold" at least it has some real emotional moments. A contrast of a bad story idea married with incredible character moments and writing.
  • Great art
  • Moments with Perry White and Jimmy Olsen
  • All the dialogue is well written
  • This comic is a great example of why we love Superman
  • The overall motivation of this arc is a shallow gimmick

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