Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado, Danny Miki, julio Ferreira and Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Andworld Design
Issue #18 was a fairly big issue (for Bendis’ run so far). Clark Kent told the world he is Superman and now no longer has a secret identity. The issue was basically just covering the reaction from his close friends and allies, and it was overwhelmingly positive. It made sense, if your best friend turns out to also be your biggest role model, and hero, you would be pretty happy about it. This comic deals with the broader reaction of Superman’s new status quo.
This is another simple story in the arc, but the focus here is much needed. How the general public would react to knowing Clark Kent is Superman would be a historical event, for the universe. In general the reactions Superman gets are overwhelmingly positive. It makes sense as Superman is a hero that generally has the public on his side. The issue also deals with how the Daily Planet needs to deal with the revelation, and Perry White’s solution is a nice twist in the story (and it even breaks the fourth wall a bit). The book shifts to the United Planets storyline (think The UN on a universe spanning scale) and ends with a threat from Mongul. There isn’t much else to say about the story as it is a book that “feels” a certain way more than develops a plot for you to “read.” If that makes sense.
I really liked half this book and was a bit bored with the second half. Bendis handles Clark Kent’s reveal in a very realistic way. All the human interactions read as genuine and heartfelt. I admit I was skeptical on how this arc would play out, but Bendis understands his strengths in writing human interactions. It showed a deep understanding and care for Superman’s extended cast, and how the world would legitimately react. It was interesting to see a big moment like this just kind of work out for our hero. The immense amount of positivity just fits in with a Superman comic, and often writers try to make things too dark and grim for the character. Bendis knows why Superman works (at least in the Superman book, the less said about Action Comics the better). My problems with the book come in the second half of the story. The switch is just jarring, and seems to be placed in there to create action. The problem is it has nothing to do with the main plot, and serves it in no way shape or form. Mongul fights Superman, that is about it. It is simply thrown in there to have action. It just highlights how much better Bendis is at handling human situations than more physical conflicts. Luckily, it cannot drag down what is ultimately a well written book.
Ivan Reis, as usual, pulls together some nice pages here. However, the multiple inking teams tend to make the book look a little inconsistent. While the team does a fantastic time trying to get a cohesive look, it is still a noticeable change. It is far from problems many DC books have faced, but it isn’t perfect. When you have Reis art you want every page to really knock it out of the park. Each page alone though looks beautiful, and there are some great double page splashes that elevate Bendis’ work.