Title: Superman #24
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Patrick Gleason & Peter J. Tomasi,
Artists: Doug Mahnke & Patrick Gleason,
Inkers: Jamie Mendoza, Mick Gray, Joe Prado, Doug Mahnke
Colours: Wil Quintana, John Kalisz, Hi-Fi
Release Date: 7th June 2017
Over the course of the last two issues, we’ve come to understand the long game being played by Manchester Black; revealed as the perpetrator of unfolding events in the last issue. It’s an eerily familiar theme playing out in the pages of Superman at the moment: an impending doom approaches, almost Lovecraftian in its scope, which threatens a people’s safety and security. In desperation, the potential victims turn to an extremist to protect them, one who can end the threat once and for all.
As it turns out, Hamilton County has been nothing more than an illusory trap created by Black and his ‘Super Elite’ to kidnap and corrupt young Jonathan Kent, highlighting to him the perceived weakness in Superman’s more sympathetic approach to dealing with his enemies. Events have clearly shaken Clark and son (not least seeing Lois lose a limb in the last issue), but as we’ve seen before in this stellar run, the family’s unshakable faith and love for each other provides the spark to take the fight to Black and his cohorts.
There is some damn fine writing going on in these pages, not least with regard to the neatly disguised and brilliantly executed twist we’ve seen, but in how these salient themes have been woven into the story without coming across as preachy or ham-fisted. There’s even room for a slice of self-aware cynicism on the type of Superman current audiences wish to see. Furthermore, the character of Manchester Black has been elevated above second-rate villain status for me, becoming infinitely more interesting and representing a genuinely formidable foe for the Man of Steel.
As his name would suggest, he’s always depicted in, or surrounded by shadow. His full reveal is a spectacular splash by Doug Mahnke, showing the darkness recede with Superman in the foreground aiming a balled fist at his grinning mug. Both artists on duty add genuine scale and drama to proceedings and each has a moment to truly define their vision of Superman. Although there are differences in approach, it doesn’t detract from a beautifully drawn book overall. It’s a perfect split, from Gleason’s cosmic menagerie in the opening panels, to Mahnke’s grounded realism in the second half.
The final page sets up a cracking finale to the arc in a series which seems to get better with each issue. Superman has certainly flown to the top of my pull-list, and if you’re not reading it, you really should be.
The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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