Comic Review: ‘Man of Steel’
When it Brian Michael Bendis shook the comic world by jumping ship from Marvel to work for DC Comics for the first time in his twenty year career, fans wondered what he would do. Many of course assumed he would be tackling Batman or Green Arrow or some other street level vigilante as he has proven so fond of doing. Instead the scribe came out and said the first major project he would tackle would be the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Many including myself (I’ll admit I was wrong), were suspicious when this news came out. In the ensuing interviews Bendis discussed a connection he felt with the character considering he was created by two Jewish kids in Cleveland, and he himself grew up as a Jewish kid in Cleveland. He also brought up a point few would argue with that the ideals the character has stood for so eight decades: Truth, Justice, and the American Way; were changing in our society and now more than ever we needed Superman to guide us. After a brief story with Jim Lee in the landmark Action Comics #1000, he began his work in earnest with the miniseries Man of Steel. This would serve as the first steps in this chapter of the Superman saga. Joining Bendis is an all-star team of artists who ensure that every issues looks beautiful: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jason Fabok, Doc Shaner, Ryan Sook, Kevin Maguire, and Adam Hughes.
We are introduced to the newest member of Superman’s rogues gallery Rogol Zaar, an alien warrior who may have had a hand in Krypton’s destruction. Learning of Superman and his cousin, he has come to earth in order to finish his genocide of the Kryptonian people. In dealing with this new threat, Superman is distracted by other things on his plate, most notably the whereabouts of Lois Lane and Jon Kent are unknown. His career comes into jeopardy as a mysterious new player is seeking to buy the Daily Planet in a takeover. On top of everything else, someone is responsible for a string of arson in Metropolis, bringing Superman into contact with the city’s new fire chief who promises to be a major player going forward.
When Pete Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Dan Jurgens wrapped up their acclaimed runs on Superman and Action Comics; they definitely left Brian Michael Bendis in a good spot to pick up on. Bendis does not waste this and perfectly builds on the story elements which preceded him as the mini-series rolls. Despite fears of “Bendis-speak” and disregard for continuity, it appears that Superman’s future is in safe hands with Bendis at the helm. The ear for dialogue he displayed in his Ultimate Spider-Man run at the beginning of his career is back in perfect form. The writer truly captures Superman’s voice perfectly, from his grandiose heroic spots to the deeper more personal moments. And of course the fast-paced atmosphere of the Daily Planet newsroom is the perfect environment for his brand of witty rapid-fire speech. One of my favorite elements of Man of Steel was the exploration of where Superman stands within the greater superhero community of the DC Universe. At various points we see appearances by: Batman, Green Lantern, Supergirl, and the rest of the Justice League. It becomes crystal clear the reverence they all hold their blue-clad colleague in, even if he just sees himself as another part of the team no better than anyone else.
As expected from as much talent as Man of Steel has, the art is absolutely incredible. I can not remember the last time Adam Hughes did interior art for a book, but I doubt it looked this good. As a veteran of the business, Kevin Maguire knows exactly how to draw Superman; from epic battles through the Metropolis skyline, to little moments like Green Lantern checking on his bud. Ryan Sook and Doc Shaner both have a timeless, almost retro, style which fits Superman perfectly. As a constant artist throughout the series, depicting a pivotal moment, Jason Fabok channels his inner-Curt Swan with a beautifully detailed and realistic depiction of the Kents.
With Man of Steel, Brian Michael Bendis has laid groundwork for a whole host of stories to unfold within the pages of the Superman family of books. We have; new allies, new enemies, and new mysteries to explore for a long time to come. Most importantly, the superstar writer has shown the world that its greatest superhero is in great hands for the foreseeable future.