Superman #4

Superman #4 2016 Cover

The Superman creative team is doing something that I didn’t think could be possible – making Superman relatable, and entertaining. If you had told me that Superman was going to be at the top of my read pile three months ago, I would have laughed in your face devilishly (as I twirled my villainous mustache).

I got to give a standing ovation to Peter J. Tomasic (writer), Patrick Gleason (writer/artist), Mick Gray (inker), and John Kalisz (colorist) for putting together another solid issue. Tomasic and Gleason are doing a good job of balancing a story that has emotional beats, as well as, entertaining action. Gleason, Gray, and Kalisz are doing their part by delivering art that pops off the page. The story and art have enough power to deliver a one-two punch that makes you wanting more by the end of each issue.

In this issue, Big Blue is still in combat with the Eradicator (who still thinks Hulk Hogan shades are still cool to wear). Realizing that dad needs a helping hand, Jon suits up to deliver a punch with his old man that causes Eradicator to unravel, for a moment.

Superman and Jon punching Eradicator

 

The above panel is what I was talking about when I said the story and art is delivering a one-two punch (no pun intended, of course). In all seriousness, a perfect example of the art making you feel the story.

Unfortunately for our heroes, the punch from Supes and Jon releases the Kyrptonian souls that were trapped inside their foe. The hundreds of displaced souls immediately seek their homeland which results in them (and the Super Family) ending up in Ace o’ Clubs, the bar run by Sooperman’s unwavering admirer Bibbo Bibowski. That’s right folks, old Bibbo is back, and he’s never looked better. 

Why did everyone end up in Bibbo’s bar? Simple, Bibbo won a “moon rock” (actually a piece of Kryptonite) from a patron after beating that patron in an arm wrestling match, and the Kryptonians seeked it out to reconnect with their homeland. Couincidence? No, just good old fashion storytelling that’s fun to read.

The Eradicator ends up reforming his body, but with the help of the Kryptonian souls (that Sups is able to communicate with) the Eradicator is put out of commission, for a moment, ending the issue on a cliffhanger.

Rotting Brains gives Superman #4…drum roll…4 out of 5 rotten brains!

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Superman #3 Reviewed

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This issue wasn’t as layered in story as the last two, instead it was more about the Eradicator than anything else. My understanding of the Eradicator was limited so it was nice to get a refresher course regarding what the Eradicator is all about. As explained, the Eradicator (or as I like to call him Easy E) was part of a secret protocol created by General Zod. On Krypton there wasn’t just one Eradicator, there was an army of them. Their mission: arrest all Kryptonian lawbreakers on Zod’s list by sucking their life force from them and placing the life force in the Phantom Zone. The body of the captive would then be placed in a cryo-chamber where it would stay until it was time for the captive’s trial. Brutal.

When Krypton exploded, the mechanical bodies that housed the Eradicators melted away and the essence of the Eradicators were fused into one humanoid form (I think). The purpose of this fused humanoid of Eradicators, now called the Eradicator, is to propagate the Kryptonian species in its truest form. Determining that Jon is tainted because he is half human and half Krypton, it is the mission of the Eradicator to eradicate the half of Jon that is human in order to “cleanse” him.

Lois and Clark decide to bring their son, Jon, to the New 52 Superman’s Fortress of Solitude in hopes that there is Kryptonian equipment there that can help them evaluate Jon’s concussion. Upon entering the fortress, they discover that the Eradicator and Krypto are there. Not knowing the Eradicator’s true purpose, the Eradicator is trusted, to a degree, by Lois and Clark.

 Remember how I said that the Eradicator wanted to “cleanse” Jon? Turns out that can’t happen until the Eradicator ingests Jon by sucking him through his mouth. While trying to ingest Jon, the Eradicator accidently (or maybe purposely) ingests Krypto. Ew. Clark loses it and begins beating on Eradicator while Jon morns the loss of Krypto. I don’t know if Jon knew Krypto but if he did this is the second animal close to Jon that he lost. The final page of the issue is Jon pissed off to high heaven looking like he is ready to put the beat down on the Eradicator.

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In some ways, this issue had kind of a horror vibe to it. Maybe it was all that talk of sucking out life forces, and the Eradicator eating a friendly dog that gave it that vibe. Maybe…um…most likely, yeah that had a lot to do with it.

Peter J. Tomasic and Patrick Gleason were credited for the story. Jorge Jimenez was credited for art, and Alejandro Sanchez for color. Although a different artist and colorist were on this issue than the past two, their style matched close to the original art team, which was great. I’ve found the change in art teams (to keep up with the double shipping) in other DC titles not to be as close as the original team, which can be distracting.

A good issue that keeps the story going.

ROTTING BRAINS gives Superman #3…drum roll…3 out of 3 rotten brains.

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Superman #2 Reviewed

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No, not that Superman #2…this Superman #2.

 

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The Superman creative team has been firing on all cylinders. Just look at that cover. A triumphant Superman flying through the clouds. Wow. Just wow. I can’t put my finger on it, but this cover gives me a Superman: For All Seasons  kind of vibe. Cover credit goes to Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz. Great job, guys!

Writers Peter J. Tomasic and and Patrick Gleason did an interesting thing in this issue. The majority of the story has a typical feel to it – Superman battling a “monster.” BUT Peter and Patrick write Superman’s son, Jon, into the battle. Big Blue and his son taking on a threat is something we’ve never seen before, ever, and it felt natural. Supes uses the situation as a moment to teach his son how to use his powers, even though doing so complicated matters. Superman could have easily taken out the threat, but instead goes through some pain in order to mold his son properly. It’s a real life father and son relationship – it’s touching and inspiring.

There is also another touching moment in the story when Clark rallies his son to take action, and Jon rips off a layer of clothing to reveal an S-shield shirt he picked up at a local thrift store. He so wants to be like his father. It’s a moving moment that continues to show us the type of relationship Clark and his son have.

Jon in S-shield shirt

In this issue we come to learn that Jon’s strength is not like his father’s, which is an intriguing concept to play with. I had a theory that his strength changes by the time of day it is because he ends up getting hurt when the sun is setting. For instance, if it’s noon and the sun is out Jon is stronger than at night when the sun is setting. That theory went out the window after I realized that Jon was using his powers earlier in the issue while in the Arctic, where the sun rarely shines. Who knows, maybe there is some kind of weird association with the sun. 

I don’t want to spoil this issue but someone from the 90s Reign of Supermen storyline appears in this issue and it was like seeing an old friend. Those involved in Superman both in this title and Action Comics are pulling on my 90s heartstrings by bringing back characters from Death of Superman and Reign of Supermen. Bravo…bravo.

There are some truly memorable moments in this issue delivered by the art. The art has a way of “speaking” to you, even if there aren’t any words on the page. A round of applause to Patrick Gleason (art), Mick Gray (inks), and John Kalisz (color). These guys are meshing amazingly on this book. At times, I get the feeling that I’m watching an updated Max Fleischer animated Superman movie by the shading used and color choices.

I could continue to gush all over this book like a little school girl but I’ll stop. With everything that happened in this issue, I thought it was a better than the last.  I’m hooked, on to issue #3.

ROTTING BRAINS gives Superman #2…drum roll…6 out of 5 (yes, you read that right) rotten brains.

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Superman #1 Reviewed

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What makes a good Superman story? Action? Yes. Adventure? Yes. Mystery? Yes. Having all those elements in a Superman story is great, but more than that is needed. Superman needs to be relatable. He needs to be human because he was raised as one. After reading Superman #1 written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, I can honestly say that Superman is relatable once again.

The story over in Action Comics doesn’t carry over into Superman, and for that, I thank DC. Nothing turns me off more to a new comic than when I’m a few issues into it and it gets interrupted by a major cross-over story. I can’t quite place when the story in Superman is happening – my guess is after the story over in Action Comics because the Kents  the Smiths (Lois and Clark go by the last name Smith in order to hide their identity) are already moved into their farmhouse.

The first few pages of the story establish the good, small town, family that Clark, Lois, and their son, Jon, share together. They have problems but they are more relatable like a fire or a runaway pet. Superman isn’t fighting some alien that’s trying to wipe out the human race – he’s trying to raise a son with super-powers in the right direction. It’s said that you grow up to be like your parents, and the story in this issue plays off of that notion because Clark and Lois are to Jon what Ma and Pa Kent were to Clark. What’s refreshing is that Jon isn’t a delinquent, he’s good natured kid that looks up to his dad.

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Jon is learning when to use his powers and when not to. In a moment of weakness, he ends up using his powers that end up having a bad outcome, and it’s witnessed by the neighbor girl next door who is about Jon’s age.

Batman and Wonder Woman end up visiting with Clark to inform him about a threat. Instead of taking off with the other two like usually, Clark decides that he and his son will face the threat together. The last page ends with Clark telling his son, “Your coming with me.”

The story that Tomasi and Gleason are telling works so well because 1) they are talented writers and 2) the art and color in this book are eye-poppingly amazing. A lot of various emotions needed to be expressed in this story and Gleason and Mick Gray nailed it with their line work. Gleason’s art inked by Gray undertones of a style similar to Tim Sale or Darwyn Cooke. The art absolutely grew on me as I read the issue and expressed so much of the emotion tied to the story. The color selection by John Kalisz was vibrant when it needed to be and soft when it needed to be – John complemented the emotional arcs just right with his color selection.

Superman #1 Interior art

There is a bit of mystery to this issue due to the fact that when Clark went to visit the grave of New 52 Superman his handprint left a blue glow to the grass. What that is all about I have no idea, but I’m interested to find out.

ROTTING BRAINS gives Superman #1…drum roll…5 out of 5 rotten brains.

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