Review – Superman #21 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer(s): Patrick Gleason & Peter J Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason & Scott Godlewski
Colours: John Kalisz
Inks: Scott Godlewski
Letters: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 19th April 2017

Batman has vanished without a trace but a mysterious (yet strangely familiar) figure intends on keeping Superman, Superboy and Robin occupied until he can complete his plan. Hamilton is also beginning to seem a lot less friendly as Clark’s neighbours begin to show a more sinister side.

Once again Gleason and Tomasi show us the correct way to balance dark and light with a book that addresses both of these things without dipping too far into either. The book begins with Jon and Damian having a sleepover, a normal activity for two ten year olds but not necessarily for super kids. Superman is called to an emergency and tries his best to subdue a giant squid whilst the crowds of onlookers shout for its death. An important question about killing foes is asked and the Man of Steel tries his best to show his son a different way. It is great having Robin along for the ride, he still tries to act tough as if he has something to prove. His continuous “Batman doesn’t…” comments are hilarious too. Most of us will be aware of the identity of the villain watching the Kents but I’m still excited for the final reveal.

Gleason and Godlewski do incredible work and we can see Gleason’s striking visual style permeate the entire book. All of our main characters are incredibly expressive and this is particularly apparent on Jon’s face as he struggles to be the well-behaved son of Superman whilst fighting a need to do more to protect those he cares about. Its crushing to see the reactions he has to his Father’s concerned looks and his devastated response when he feels he hasn’t measured up.

John Kalisz makes use of some bright and vibrant colours to bring the county of Hamilton alive and imbue it with the hope filled aura that comes with being Superman’s new home town. The powerful tone of red used for Jon’s heat vision ray tears across the page allowing us to feel the heat visually. As night falls and the story takes a darker tone the colour becomes far more muted and oppressive giving us a town that looks more like that featured in a horror story.

There is a lot to love about this book and once more we are reminded just how awe inspiring this Superman is. He and his family are the very epitome of the perfect family that we try to be, while the Waynes (wealth aside) are the families we actually end up becoming. Though Jon is powerful he is still a child who is struggling to be accepted by his Father and the world around him. As we watch two super hero ten year olds fall out and define the rules of their relationship it is easy to imagine Bruce and Clark as children going through the same thing if they had met under the same circumstances.

Superman was and is once again one of DC’s flagship titles and yet it refuses to rest on its laurels. This book is optimistic and sincere, and is exactly the direction Superman should always be moving in. The creative team have found a balance that eluded the New 52 without having to return the Man of Steel to a completely overpowered state. The threat hiding in the shadows is real, but so is the hope, and in the end, that is why the world needs Superman.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
John Tweets from @ShinKagato

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