Let us free them together (Superman #31 comic review)
Writer: Philip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Colorist: Gabe Eltreb
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Superman continues its separate arc from Action Comics, where Superman and Superboy are on an alien planet researching the threat of the Shadowbreed. The Shadowbreed seems to be more of a force than an actual tangible antagonist, as it was revealed that it connects with a host species and takes control. There also seems to be some intergalactic family politics at play here with the alien planet having some issues with its new monarchy. While the previous issue focused on relationships on Earth as well, this comic takes place completely on the alien planet and wholly focuses on the threat there.
It is difficult to get into the story here, without touching on some spoilers. It is not a complex or “essential” issue. There are no major long reaching revelations. But, any discussion on the plot contents of the book would ruin someone’s enjoyment. This issue solely focuses on the alien planet and the history of the Shadowbreed. In many ways they are like the Venom Symbiote in that it is a black alien creature that seems to be able to cling onto a host, and overtake their identity. In the last issue we learned that it was something the thought they had beaten long ago, but has been secretly working behind the scenes with their hosts in the monarchy. In this issue the reader learns on how far the Shadowbreed influence goes and some answers on their return.
I have been enjoying Johnson’s Superman run a lot, but this comic is a downturn for me. Don’t get me wrong it is far from a bad comic, but it just seems a bit more like “filler” than actual content. He came onto the title to reinvent Superman and bring the entire line in a new direction. Having a “monster of the week” issue already seems a bit rushed. Even if the plotting and creation is quite good, it still feels like it is pumping the breaks a bit too much. Also, we know that the Superman title will be rebooting soon to become a Jonathan Kent focused book, so Kennedy’s ownership of this particular title is waning, and it shows. He has also done a great job with character moments and relationship building in every previous issue (Action Comics and Superman alike) and this comic is just an intergalactic adventure. It just seems that his heart is not in Action Comics while Superman has become a serviceable title. He also leans a bit too much into exposition here that drags the book down, something the writer has avoided so far. Every issue prior has been a quick and fun read, this was a bit too heavy with things I had a hard time caring about. Overall, the biggest problem is this book just pales in comparison to his other work.
Scott Godlewski’s art is a bit more “one note” here (last issue he got to create for many different scenes and themes). However, he was only given one note to play with. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the art. It does set the mood perfectly fine, and Gabe Eltreb’s extremely dark colors add a foreboding and sinister element to The Shadowbreed’s influence. Like the writing itself, the art is fine but not as great as it has been in the past.
Summary A decent chapter in the Superman saga, but does not reach the same excitement previous issues had. Superman and his son face a new and unique adventure, but overall it seems more stop gap than forward moving.