Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
We’re several months in and I still can’t get over the fact that Brian Michael Bendis is writing Superman. Many people including myself have had mixed feelings regarding Bendis’ Superman. On one hand, his voice for Superman has been spot on. Also, instead of Bendis messing with continuity for this story (for the most part), he’s connecting his story to the greater DC universe. This issue alone features Livewire, The Atom, Ted Kord, The Hall of Justice, and the Justice League. On the other hand, Bendis has made some questionable choices for characters such as The Flash and Martian Manhunter. “Bendis talk” certainly doesn’t help this issue either. So does Superman #3 set the story in the right direction, or does it belong in the phantom zone next to Rogol Zaar?
This issue picks up right where #2 left off. The entire Earth fell into the phantom zone, the otherworldly prison for Krypton’s worst criminals. It also doesn’t help that Superman’s latest adversary, Rogal Zaar, just became a resident of the phantom zone.
I really felt that last issue was all over the place in terms of pacing. It felt like we just stuck our heads out of the water from Rogal Zaar in Man of Steel, and then we were pulled right back under. Thankfully, this issue really felt like a cohesive part of the story. The world-level threat of the last issue didn’t really have an equal scale. The main strength of this issue was its focus on how Earth’s heroes are dealing with the situation. In fact, this almost felt like an issue of Justice League with the cameos from Batman to Mr. Terrific.
Out of the whole issue, the scene featuring Rogal Zaar stood out to me. The juxtaposition of Earth’s heroes dealing with the crisis and the cut to Rogal Zaar waiting patiently was well done. It showed Earth from a different perspective that I think helped give the situation scale and made Rogal Zaar more menacing.
The Rogal Zaar scene wasn’t the only part I enjoyed about the issue either. There were several moments of comedy that were perfectly placed. This was a nice surprise because I think Bendis can sometimes overdo it with humor. A simple page shows Superman descending on a crowd of rioters and looters, asking them to stop. Another great page featured Adam Strange floating above a now vanished Earth.
When it comes to art, what is there left to say about Ivan Reis? Reis is probably my favorite artist who uses the DC “house style”. His pencils are perfect not only for the man of steel but for the grand scale of this story. There are several breathtaking splash pages in this issue that are sure to make your jaw drop. If you’re a fan of Ivan Reis’ work, this issue is worth picking up for the art alone.
Overall, I think that this issue is the best of Bendis’ work on Superman. Previous issues had solid direction but poor execution, but I feel this issue hit all the right notes. If Bendis can keep Superman at this level of quality, it will be difficult to decide whether Action Comics or Superman is the best Superman book on the shelves.