Monday, September 17, 2018

Super Reading: Superman #3 (2018)


The Unity Saga: Part 3

Script:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Ivan Reis
Inks:  Joe Prado & Oclair Albert (pp 12 - 13, 16-18)
Colors:  Alex Sinclair
Letters:  Josh Reed
Cover:  Reis, Prado, Sinclair
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Cotton
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham

Bendis and Reis bring us more big-screen, summer-blockbuster, high-octane sci-fi action in this issue  - and I'm digging it.

It doesn't hurt that the issue opens on Livewire, one of my favorite of the "newer" Superman foes, beautifully rendered and colored by Reis and Sinclair.  But then - we learn in a massive two-page, magnificently handled spread - oh, dang... Earth may have been stranded in the Phantom Zone c/o our friends at S.T.A.R. Labs.

Superman arrives on the scene, and - realizing Livewire may have not been at S.T.A.R. for the legal-est of reasons, she also had nothing to do with the catastrophe, Superman does something utterly in character and is able to cover it for the reader in captions - he asks Livewire to help.

And, in a lot of ways, a lot of this issue is about that sentiment.  Issue 2 saw Superman rally the Justice League, and as they're being taken out by a mysterious Phantom Zone illness, Big Blue remains on the move, keeping Earth going, as well as asking people to be better, including his fellow Leaguers.

Meanwhile, Rogol Zaar has discovered Jax-Ur, a name longtime Superman fans will know as a Phantom Zone villain worse than Zod.  Seeing an opportunity, and pointing to Earth hanging in space, Zaar forms an alliance.

If I had concerns about the pace of Bendis' books based upon prior work - I may have been working on outdated information.  Too often DC books try to cram and cram information into every issue, even when the gears feel stuck in neutral until the story leaps into drive and tends to crash into a wall.  Bendis' story and Reis' art is unspooling the tale at a good clip.  It never feels slow or laborious - but it also isn't just frantic shifting from panel to panel.  While there's a flavor of the montage to the events while Superman rushes about trying to save the day everywhere he can - AND investigate the Phantom Zone issue - its not just characters shouting plot points at one another (which, really, Morrison mastered and everyone else is playing catch-up, with Jason Aaron pretty much there in Avengers).   As a mystery writer, Bendis is dropping clues at the right times without ever giving up the mystery.  I have no idea what's *really* happening, and it's fun.

Over in Action, Superman is dealing with domestic, professional and local issues and it's one half of what I dig about Superman comics - and here in Superman, we're getting that amazing sci-fi stuff that should be a part of the books, too (now give me a third book that features the Superman family and high tech nonsense, and I'm good).  Toss in the events in Supergirl (we'll get to that tomorrow), and it is (has remained since Rebirth) a very good time to be reading Superman comics.

While Rogol Zaar hasn't been peeled back to reveal much, and the mystery of Krypton's end remains just that, putting that in the air and then moving on to a mystery villain of incredible power and a grudge shows what Doomsday *could* have been, what any of the cosmic villains since Mongul could have represented to Superman - but, hey, here we are and I'm actually warming up to a character I *did not like at all* when this started.  That's something, I think.

Bringing in stuff for us with Superman Encyclopedias on our shelves (like Jax-Ur) is all the more rewarding and a great chance to introduce these characters to newer readers in a slightly new light that doesn't diminish prior appearances.

Time may come as the story threads tighten and we learn what it's all about that I'm dissatisfied, but for now, these first three issues show tremendous promise for where Reis and Bendis are headed.  If nothing else, the color, design and illustrations are probably worth the price of admission, anyway.

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