Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Julio Ferreira and Danny Miki
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
There is really not much of an introduction to this issue. Superman #25 starts a new arc, and it is one that seemingly touches no part of Bendis’ run so far. If anything it goes back to the “New 52” and starts pulling on threads from there. Superwoman (Lana Lang) even makes a guest appearance. There is a new antagonist, a member of the Synmar race, that is introduced here as well that is 100% new but has ties to Superman’s origin. A new reader could technically jump into this issue with having missed everything prior, in Bendis’ run, and be caught up by the end of this book.
For an over-sized issue, the story is fairly straight forward. The book is split up into two parts, one dealing with Superman Flashbacks and the other being Synmar’s introduction. However, these two parts are intrinsically connected and cross over from time to time. Synmar’s race of aliens actually witnessed the destruction of Krypton (they were not involved) and see the rocket carrying Kal-El. They are concerned about the possibility of the baby becoming a “Light God” on Earth, but ultimately decide to not intercept. Earth is a primitive planet to them and they really don’t care what happens. Later, the see Superman saving people and becoming a protector of the planet, so they create their own Superman. It seems that Synmar’s version of Superman was involved in some death and destruction. The Superman flashback pages highlight Clark Kent’s connection to Lana Lang (who may be up to something) and even bring back her version Superwoman as part to the Superman family. It also helpfully reminds the reader that New 52 Superman and current Superman have been merged into one character. Overall, this issue is an introduction to the next big arc, while there are no big surprises it does set up a clear collision course between Superman and Synmar’s “Superman.”
This issue is one of the more interesting arcs of Bendis’s run. It is actually confusing that this arc is hitting now and wasn’t one of his first, since it is connected to what came just before he took over the title. I actually like the simple concept of the new antagonist’s origin, that he is an attempt at an alien race creating their own Superman. The problem is that Superman works because the person is a symbol of hope. Superman is not a created weapon, he is a guardian. Clark Kent had a great upbringing and always knew to treat others with respect and not behave as if he was better than anyone (even though he totally is). I also appreciate bringing Lana Lang back into the fold. Superman’s books always had strengths in the supporting cast. Like Spider-Man, the relationships and supporting characters brought the series to life. A good Superman book is never just about Superman vs. some powerful villain. He needs real human relationships to ground him and make him relatable and inspirational. My only issue is that this storyline is hitting too late. The references it makes would have been far better coming out of Superman Reborn.
Ivan Reis returns on art duties here, and I am really thankful that he has. His work is always stellar and it is worth picking up for that reason alone. His clean and detailed style just works for Superman. You can tell he is at home when drawing the character, and every panel is full of life. It is also always a treat when Ivan Reis gets to design a new character, which we have here with Synmar’s “Superman.” It is just a disappointment we can’t always have Reis artwork, but things that look this good take more time than a monthly schedule allows.