Superman (2018-) #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
It’s been a bad couple of months for the Man of Steel. First, his family left to go train with his morally questionable space-dad. Then, the entire Earth fell into the Phantom Zone thanks to the stupidity of Star Labs. And now, Rogol Zaar, the alleged destroyer of Krypton, is headed straight for Superman and the rest of Earth.
This issue is mainly one large fight between Superman and Rogol Zaar, and it doesn’t leave you much time to breathe. While most issue-spanning fights usually feel decompressed, this fight grabs you from the start and keeps you engaged. Rogol and his forces chase the Man of Steel all around the planet. Honestly, this feels more like Actions Comics than Superman with all the fights, fists, and world ending threats. The action in this issue is superb, and it doesn’t hurt that Ivan Reis is on art duties. Reis’ pencils convey the action, as well as the power of Rogol, so incredibly well.
Even though this issue moves at a fast pace, it still moves the story forward. As Superman and Rogol Zaar battle it out, the Atom and the Flash attempt to teleport the Earth out of the Phantom Zone. Even though it’s a Superman title, it’s nice for Bendis to acknowledge the rest of Earth’s heroes.
However, my big complaint with this issue is Bendis’s voice for basically everyone but Superman. Bendis writes a great Man of Steel, but other characters are way off. Barry Allen in this issue feels more like a wannabee-Wally West (granted this is true for most Barry Allen writers in recent years). Out of all the characters though, no one suffers more from Bendis’s writing than Jon.
Tomasi and Gleason did an excellent job of defining and developing Jon’s character in their run on Superman. Superman’s son loves everything about being a superhero, and he doesn’t admire anymore more than his father. However, Bendis’s Jon is full of angst and anger. Honestly, some of Jon’s lines in this issue feel more Damian than Jon.
In a flashback, Jon asks his father why he can’t just murder any of the villains they encounter. First off, why is a kid asking about murder? And Clark’s response isn’t much better. Instead of explaining why people are good (or whatever Superman would say), Superman talks about how much he would like to pop Batman’s head off. Jon sounds like an angsty adult, and Superman sounds like a child in this speech. This whole interaction is really off-putting and doesn’t give me hope for the eventual return of Jon.
Superman #4 is a mixed bag. Although the action is excellent, the dialogue and characterization are way off. Although Rogol Zaar is menacing here, we don’t get any more meaningful characterization for him (and don’t get me started on his 90’s costume). Although we get to see more of Jon, it’s not the Jon I remember. Until Bendis gets a good grasp of these characters, this book might be nothing more than an Ivan Reis showcase.
Superman (2018-) #4
Superman #4 is a mix of great action and off-putting dialogue.