Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Jason Fabok
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Cover by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
We finally get to learn what’s happened to Lois and Jon as Bendis wraps up the final issue of his debut in DC comics. It’s no secret that Bendis wants the pieces of the Superman mythos that make him a “family man”, rather than the Super icon, moved off the playing field. The mysterious figure who hopped out of the Transformer-like space ship turns to be poppa-Supes (Jor-El aka Mr. Oz). He looks to take Jon on a galactic walk-about in hopes of teaching Jon about his Kryptonian lineage.
In addition, the struggle between Zaar and Supes against the Kryptonian cleanse saw Clark in pursuit of Zaar all the way to the center of the earth. Clark discovers Zaar planting a bomb similar to the one that allegedly destroyed Krypton. With the combined effort of Kara and some weapons from the rubble of the Fortress of Solitude (FOS), Zaar is contained and neutralized.
Things wrap up pretty quickly from here with a special tribute to the destruction of Kandor in the rebuilt FOS. Looking at the two page splash of the candle rocket vigil with Supes and the JLA gave me vibes that made me reminisce on the old days of “Funeral for a Friend/Epilogue” tribute for the fallen Coast City in ’94. Bendis finally ends the mini-series not by resolving the initial mystery of the arson fires, but rather by prolonging it into the next series to follow: Superman and Action Comics #1.
Plot of the Panel
A story arc with tight character development, plot structure, as well as narrative coherence and flow delivered across two or three issues, makes a more powerful statement than six loose tales with filler. The major takeaways from this Bendis-series: 1). Kandor is gone; 2). Lois and Jon are gone; 3). The real culprit behind the arson-ring is gone; 4). Rogol Zaar was here, but now he’s gone.
There’s a lot of movement in this mini-series of both long-standing as well as recently established elements—Supes as a family man, as a father, keeper of the Kryptonian legacy—from the mythos that audiences did not call to be disturbed, instead of many wanted to see them explored. We haven’t seen this kind of clearing since the New 52. Taking a major pillar like Kandor off the board can potentially upset the fandom. But not because of their deep love for Kandor. Rather because it plays directly into the criticisms that many fans have of Bendis’ storytelling and his penchant for shifting things around in a character’s mythic landscape.
Similarly, removing Lois and Jon from the series could potentially alienate fans who were invested in stories that further explored the mythic renaissance ushered in by Dan Jurgens and Peter Tomasi. Their removal conveniently allows Bendis to focus on detailing Super-feats (which is precisely what the first three issues told readers to focus on) without having to incorporate the dynamics of Clark’s family as anything more than a mere after-thought. This can be an interesting angle, and I could see Bendis as a scribe guiding Supes to greatness. But not at the expense of the elements that bring development and maturation to the mythos. With Bendis clearing out this much of Superman’s house, there are a couple of questions: why offer readers such a thinly laid backstory to support the new narrative? Why throw out so many plots without resoloving them by the arc’s end?
In short, this mini-series has too many bells and whistles for me, while the narrative itself was stripped down to its bare dry bones. It did just enough to introduce a few new characters and a dope villain.