Dad, I Can’t Stop It (Superman#29 comic review)
Writer: Philip Kennedy Johnson
Penciler: Phil Hester
Inker: Eric Gaspur
Colorist: Hi Fi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
The book may say issue #29 on the cover, but it might as well be the first issue. DC has gone under another soft reboot, and a new creative team takes over the title. This is a jumping-on point for any new readers. There are only light ties to Bendis’ previous run (Superboy being aged up and in The Legion of Superheroes) and no required reading of the Future State Superman titles needed. It is a dramatic shift in tone and storytelling but it is still Superman through and through.
Considering that this is a jumping-on point, there is not too much to this issue. Superman and Superboy are fighting unknown aliens, that are coming from some interdimensional rift. While the issue could be summed up like that, there are a few moments of foreshadowing that let the reader know where this arc could possibly be going. Superman is able to be hurt by these aliens, so we know this is a major threat. Making this more interesting is that Superboy has been in the future and knows when his father dies. He seems worried that this invasion is the event that leads to his death (or catalyst for it). A couple of panels later and the reader is given a hint that Amanda Waller has something to do with all this.
This is a big change, going from Bendis to Johnson. The most drastic change is how the book reads. Johnson allows the panel to speak for itself and never bogs down the story with over-explanation. This book is a quick read, and Superman has not been that way for quite a while. However, Johnson does not keep the book shallow. Even though it moves at a brisk pace, things do happen and he is able to set up a few interesting ideas without much exposition. Aliens show up and actually cut Superman, making him bleed. That small scene is enough for the reader to know that this is a big threat. Johnson did not need an entire arc setting up the aliens and their backstory (though that might come later, who knows). He plotted an action scene that set up the stakes perfectly. He did not need to have Superboy go off to the future and research the time of his father’s death in some crossover. He just has Superboy simply state that he knows this is the beginning of the end. Johnson didn’t need to have issue after issue of Amanda Waller working in the background dragging out some mysterious B plot. He just had her show up for a couple of panels and the reader is smart enough to try and fill in the blanks themselves. It is a refreshing read. I know next to nothing about Philip Kennedy Johnson, but it seems like he has a handle on how to craft an effective comic through his storytelling. I am looking forward to seeing where the title goes from here.
Phil Hester is a great choice for this book. The style is not exactly “Superman Adventures” (copied from Bruce Timm’s Superman The Animated series) but it has the same energy. Everything is cartoony enough without looking like it is a tie-in to some show I am missing on television. It brings the color back into the title and gives everything the lightness that a Superman title needs. With the lighter script, the art really gets to shine as it allows the action to be the star of the show. There are some great human moments as well, especially between Superman and his son. Hester and Johnson seem to be a great team and I am happy they are working together on this title.
Summary Overall a solid new start to Superman that features a lot of promise in what is to come. It is a quick read and the setup is there, but the payoff is still waiting. Hopefully, this is a new direction for Superman that elevates the title to its deserved iconic status.