The Man of Steel #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Jason Fabok
It feels like Bendis made the jump to DC just a couple of days ago, but here we are on the fourth issue of his The Man of Steel miniseries that is supposed to lay the foundations for both of his Superman and Action Comics runs.
A lot of fans were worried about this takeover but issues one to three showed Bendis is quite capable of writing a good Superman story. Unfortunately, #4 is a huge nosedive and sees a lot of the Bendis tropes make a less-than-grand return.
The last issue saw the new villain destroy Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, and (presumably) the city of Kandor and all of its citizens. This served as a really emotional moment for both Clark and Kara, but it also promised an epic battle between the heroes and Rogol Zaar, the villain of the story.
We got a battle, but unfortunately not an epic one. Bendis relies too much on telling the readers what was happening, instead of allowing Maguire to show us the battle. The first half of the book is mostly panels with punching and flying and stuff breaking, but they are all accompanied by narrative boxes which Bendis uses to describe what is happening, instead of letting the art speak for itself.
The art is… fine. It looks flat at times and some faces are poorly drawn (especially Hal), but the coloring is done nicely and the paneling is clean and simple, allowing the book to flow nicely. Well, the book would flow nicely if it weren’t for the overuse of the boxes and the return of the classic Bendis-talk.
And since we mentioned Bendis-talk, lets, well, talk about that for a moment. Yes, Bendis-talk! You know, the overuse of unnecessary dialogue? The conversation between two or more people? I mean, someone could talk to himself, but that is not a dialogue anymore, that has a different name. It’s called monologue.
Anyway, Bendis-talk is here and boy does it make a grand return. There are a lot of nonsensical exchanges in the book, but none come close to a certain page about halfway through the book. This page perfectly encapsulates some of the worst Bendis traits to a point that it makes me wonder if he decided to just embrace the meme and make a meta-joke about himself and his writing. It’s just that surreal.
Despite the noticeable dip in quality, I am still interested in this book and Bendis’ future Superman titles. His previous Man of Steel chapters and his DC Nation preview showed that he is more than capable of writing a good and compelling Superman. Hopefully Bendis just had a bad day when he wrote this one and couldn’t bother to improve it. Or he just decided to go full meta and play a joke on us. Either way, I am looking forward to the next issue to see where this all leads to. It must have a goal.
The Man of Steel #4
The Man of Steel #4 is a huge nosedive and sees a lot of the Bendis tropes make a less-than-grand return.