Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
Superman #9 is the third part of this “What happened to Jon?” arc. While this is quite possibly the most controversial story in an already controversial run, I find myself eating it up each time. Though I think this arc may be getting a tad long in the tooth, It’s never been a bore, and that’s something I can appreciate.
After the last issue’s stunning cliffhanger, I found myself looking forward to the next one quite a bit. It was easily one of the better issues of the series, and that put a heavy burden on #9’s shoulders. It doesn’t quite match those expectations, and that’s largely due to this issue’s cliffhanger. Which is to say, it’s basically the same one as last time. So, while there are things happening in this book, the cliffhanger causes it to feel like we’ve run in a circle.
In addition to the somewhat underwhelming ending, the beginning is a bit off, too. It’s a very solid sequence in a vacuum, but not so much in context. This daydream of Superman’s feels very similar to Zod’s dream sequence from back in issue #5. Unlike that, this one doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the rest of the issue. The similarities between the two could be hinting at something to come later, but as it stands it feels more like a distraction than anything.
That doesn’t mean the issue is bad. Not at all, in fact. The beginning and end may not be entirely satisfactory, everything in between is just as good as before. Jon’s story continues to be compelling, his characterization feels right, and the action is exciting. It’s what you’ve come to expect if you like this book, and though certain aspects of this issue put me off a bit, I still quite enjoyed myself.
The art is a step-up this time around. In the last issue I felt that Ivan Reis’ pages were a bit rushed, but consider that point now struck from the record. Reis is in top form and a large part of why the present-day scenes are so enjoyable. Brandon Peterson, who is illustrating the past scenes, continues to be very consistent. His style is different enough from Reis’ that the time changes are noticeable without being jarring. Both bring a unique flavor to this book, and it would be a shame to lose either one.
Superman #9 doesn’t quite live up to the hype that #8 set up for it, but it still manages to be engaging. Bendis has a strong handle on these characters, and the art team is constantly upping their game. If you’ve liked this run so far, then there is plenty for you to enjoy here.
Bendis has a strong handle on these characters, and the art team is constantly upping their game. If you’ve liked this run so far, then there is plenty for you to enjoy here.