Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Ryan Sook, Jason Fabok (pg. 16)
Colors by: Alex Sinclair , Wade Von Grawbadger (pg. 12-13, 15)
Cover by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis, Alex Sinclair
Back, Back, Back It Up
There was very little worth mentioning from the previous issue. Let’s just say that Bendis picks up where Aaron Sorkin’s season 3 of Newsroom left off: Perry and the Daily Planet struggle to stay afloat in the face of a looming buy-out. Lois’ mysterious absence has left a void in the newsroom as the rising tide of citizen journalism, celebrity gossip, and trending topics invades the Planet. Tension is brewing among newcomers Trish Q and Robinson Goode who want to find out what happened to Lois by using Clark as the source for their latest trending topic. Oh yeah, and Rogol Zaar found out that Superman was the last survivor of Krypton and he lives on Earth.
The Run Down
This issue opens with an outer space mystery guest who shows up on present-day Earth at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. This mystery guest is none other than….Rogol Zaar! While investigating the rash of arson fires spreading across Metropolis, the Man of Steel gets a sobering shock when he discovers a trail of “forget-me-nots” left behind by our mysterious intruder in the Fortress of Solitude. This mystery man seems to have a strategy in mind in order to get what he wants from the Last Son of Krypton. But just what does he want with Superman? Is he connected to Lois and Jon’s absence?
The Plot of the Panel
Ryan Sook’s artwork is amazing! With the exception of MOS #2, Jason Fabook, Ivan Reis, and Alex Sinclair have sustained my interest in Bendis’ overall reworking of the Superman mythos.
Rogol Zaar’s arrival on earth post-destruction of Krypton (pdk) reveals a more menacing, grizzled, and battle-hardened galactic war veteran. A figure who lives off the land of whatever planet he lands on. Sook vision of Zaar embodies a 90s era aesthetic—oversized arms, enlarged fists, and endless amount of secret pouches. Moreover, Sook’s details echo familiar elements of establishment villains—the size and stature of Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Gog; two colored eyes and half-eaten face of Hank Hanshaw/Cyborg Superman; they even managed to tie in the skull belt buckle similar to the Main Man himself, Lobo. Bendis seems to establish a character who embodies the most deadly traits of Superman’s alien foes. In addition, Sook’s panel arrangements and action sequences cohere the storylines
Bendis tries to invent a version of Superman that is both massively heroic and commonly relatable. These heroic moments in the story usually start with Superman being halfway around the world. He makes quick work of an ‘act of God’ or some kind of natural disaster—“in Tanzania or someplace”, an Alaskan tsunami, a mudslide in a fishing village halfway across the planet. Next, Bendis injects off-handed quips in narrative boxes to make Superman more related. Overall, it seems so forced and manufactured. Almost like he’s trying too hard to make Supes seem like a “regular joe”.
Sook’s artwork, however, reveals the Man of Steel’s expression of humanity much better than the dialogue and overall plot. The 2-page spreads highlight Clark’s genuine emotional reactions to genuinely emotional situations. At first glance, the panel configurations in the 2 page-splash layouts of Superman walking into the Fortress of Solitude and flying through the Metropolis sky are huge standouts. Other half-page splashes are interlaced with medium shots of shock and devastation and detailed shots of Clark’s anger—terse lips, clenched fists, the look of horror welling up in tear-filled eyes—connects with audiences emotionally, which draws them into the story.