Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Superman has met his newest foe, Synmar. Synmar got an origin story two issues back that detailed how the alien was created to be a “Superman” themselves. The messaging around this is a bit confusing as Synmar has been used to refer to the alien race, the antagonist’s name, and the planet they come from. In the last issue “Synmar” finally faced off against Superman in an issue long fight. They did not say a single word as they just continuously fought against Superman. Superman has been trying to reason with Symar, but it has been to no avail as they do not seem to understand. This lead Superman to bring Synmar to The Phantom Zone, and out of Earth’s harms way.
There is a brief interlude with Lois and Lana Lang, but again this issue is all about the fight between Synmar and Superman. The difference here is Superman actually pulls back from fighting even more and realizes something is wrong here. There is an alien that he doesn’t recognize, has no record of their species or planet, and therefore has no reason to believe they actually mean harm. For all Superman knows a fight is a handshake in their culture. The issue explores the ways Superman tries to communicate with Synmar (as the antagonist tries to harm him) and finding a way to figure out more of their backstory. Synmar finally does communicate but it is all in very broken language skills. Superman even pleads for him to speak more as he will be able to decipher the language the more he hears. Superman finds a way to open The Phantom Zone far from Earth and the chases Synmar into a new area of the universe he has not experienced before.
This issue solves one problem I have with the last issue. Rather than just being a fight, it actually attempts to create a story here with some real character development. Bendis has had some weaknesses on Superman but he has always shown a deep understanding of the character. Superman doesn’t want to fight, and that is important. He might be the most powerful man in the room, most of the time, but he isn’t The Hulk. Smashing is a last resort and not his first instinct. So it was nice seeing how Superman was still trying to be the better person, even when that person seems to want him dead. So while this issue is another long and drawn out fight, it has a purpose. It is far better written than the last issue, and way better than the Action Comics fight against Parasite. Brian Michael Bendis does know how to create a great action driven comic, it is just a rare sight nowadays.
Ivan Reis’s art is incredible. There is a lot of dynamic energy in each panel, and since Synmar is trying to kill Superman and Superman is trying to reason with Synmar, he balances this juxtaposition with ease. Everything is incredibly expressive and lively. I could go on and on about the art, but this is Ivan Reis, you know what you are getting.