Brian Michael Bendis Shatters Superman's World

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
StumbleUpon icon
Del.icio.us icon
Reddit icon
e-mail icon

I have good news and bad news for you: Superman's world will never be the same.

Eisner award-winning writer, Brian Michael Bendis, has hardly scratched the surface on his time as Superman writer. Yet that small scratch has turned out to be a deep gouge of which will scar the Man of Steel going forward for many years to come.

Bendis is a tireless writer who can balance many projects at once, as proven during his time at Marvel. He doesn't often bounce around from story to story as he's able to balance so many at a time. While we have no idea how long his reign on Superman will go, his story that launched his tenure has been nothing short of game-changing.

Many people see Superman as a challenging character to write because of his invulnerability and multitude of super-powers. However, in three issues Bendis has challenged the last son of Krypton in ways that seem so obvious it's a wonder how they've been overlooked. Throughout this short time, Bendis has captured Superman's voice, displayed Clark Kent's mannerisms, and crushed Kal-El's spirit.

There are still three more issues to go, as Bendis slowly unravels the truth about the disappearance of Lois and Jonathan. Each issue providing a little more information than the last. All the while an arsonist is on the loose, burning Metropolis to the ground as Superman continues to save people abroad.

This is the crux of having a powerset that many people feel are god-like, while not having the ability to be omnipresent. Compelled to help everyone, but not being able to help them all at the same time, he is forced to decide which situations are a priority. Bendis is tackling the question many of us wonder: what's happening while Superman is somewhere else saving the world?

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Unsure of how to keep his city safe, Superman even calls in the help of Batman for his investigative prowess. The arson will continue until they find the culprit but with other, more pressing, matters to tend to, Superman cannot devote his full attention to building fires.

Man of Steel #3 pulls Superman in so many directions, we're seeing his vulnerabilities. He's not a "God". He HAS limitations. And we see what happens when he isn't in the right place at the right time. And when he needs to leave in a hurry, Batman explains it best:

"Something I have learned...if the politest man in the galaxy has to be somewhere so fast he can't even say goodbye...there's a good reason." - Batman (Man of Steel #3, pg 8)

Metropolis. Fortress of Solitude. For a sun-powered Kryptonian that can move faster than the speed of sound, it's still going to take him some time to get from one place to the other.

Bendis realizes this. We get caught up in the time-sink that are the panels of comic books. We see a red streak leave one panel, and Superman enters the next in a different location. While Superman is halfway around the planet-saving a fishing village from a mudslide, a building was set ablaze in Metropolis. While he's back in Metropolis trying to help solve the arsonist problem, the Fortress is under attack. When he gets there, all that's left to do is pick up the pieces.

It's here where Bendis once again finds a part of Superman that has been missing. Supergirl. And we get to hear Superman's thoughts about how he "loves her so much". There are hundreds of comic books on the shelves with main characters surrounded by their supporting cast. Often, Superman and Supergirl are left out of each other's lives for some unknown reason. As the last two surviving members of their race, the two of them should be closer to one another than any other two characters in comic books (that aren't married).

They're cousins who should behave like kindred spirits that cling to each other in times of need. And it took Bendis to provide it. The assault on the Fortress of Solitude by Rogol Zaar came at a time when nobody was home. Everything was destroyed. Including a MAJOR piece of Krypton that often gets overlooked unless Brainiac is a part of the story...

Kandor.

The bottled city, and its inhabitants. Shattered. Without throwing a single punch, Rogol Zaar has brought Superman AND Supergirl to their knees. Tears running down Kal's face is not an image we're used to seeing. Artist Ryan Sook masterfully puts on an art clinic in these pages; capturing the facial expressions of a broken man, who pulls himself off the mat with rage but fights to maintain self-control.

Bendis is building towards a monumental showdown between Rogol Zaar and the Super cousins, but he's also found time to weave additional plot-lines that could be stories within themselves. If you haven't been following the mini-series, you are missing out on something extremely special.

We're halfway through Bendis' first full storyline and it's shaping up to be one of the best Superman stories told in more than five years.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0