Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Inks: Joe Prado
Letters: Josh Reed
Release Date: 8th August 2018
At the end of the first issue of SUPERMAN we discovered the unthinkable had happened, and that planet Earth itself had been somehow transported inside of the Phantom Zone! This latest issue explains why, and the major threat behind the entire event is revealed.
Brian Michael Bendis weaves an intricate tale of intrigue as we are taken into the distant past and treated to a flashback of a war between the Thanagarians and the Tamareneans. Though not directly linked to the tale, the warrior who is allied with the Thanagarians tells us a lot about what we are dealing with.
We get a glimpse of the inhabitants of the Phantom zone including movie bad guy Nuclear Man! I haven’t thought about this particular character in many years and despite his eventual fate against a stronger foe I enjoyed the reference. We also get to see the effects that Earth’s current location is having on different members of the Justice League, with even Superman himself not immune to the changes.
Ivan Reis brings the detailed world of the DCU to life in spectacular fashion. Superman himself is incredibly striking and statuesque in most of his scenes and yet his face portrays his human emotions and the concern for his friends and family. We are shown the vast emptiness of the Phantom Zone, and it’s every bit as desolate and barren as we always imagined with Reis’ artwork painting us a beautifully horrific deathscape. The battle with Nuclear Man stands out as a short but show stopping fight and while the outcome is never really in doubt, it’s still visually impressive exchange.
Alex Sinclair once again keeps the continuity intact with his gorgeous use of colour, skilfully making Reis’ pencil work all the more stunning. Clark’s gaze over the planet Earth is all the more horrifying thanks to the arcane green shafts of lightning surrounding it and, of course, the Phantom Zone feels cold and barren due to wisps of dull ash that engulf the area.
Superman may be pretty much invincible but we are reminded in this issue that his greatest weakness is the Planet Earth and that hurting his home in turn hurts the Man of Steel himself. The issue gives us some background on Superman’s new enemy, shows us not one, but two great battles and still manages to up the threat level without missing a beat.
To present an adversary as a legitimate threat to Superman can be difficult and often relies on gimmicks, magic or a certain green stone from his home planet, but Bendis and his team have brought us a tangible danger that is likely to stretch him to his very limit. I am excited to see where this story goes and it’s all thanks to a creative team who truly understand the character.
The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato