When we last left Superman, he had willingly accepted Parallax into his body in exchange for the release of several kidnapped children. Sinestro, returned from the dead in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #25 has arrived on Earth to reclaim the fear entity and he’s willing to take down Superman to do so. He transports the Man of Steel to the anti-matter universe of Qward where the two continue their battle.
We’ve seen Sinestro as the ultimate evil for some time, wielding the power of fear with an iron fist. Superman #30 shows him in a slightly different light as he’s more paranoid than confident. He wants to return to the power and glory he once had controlling Parallax and ruling the Sinestro Corps after he was bested by Hal Jordan. This makes him desperate and more than a little erratic.
The real standout in this issue is when Sinestro forces a captive Superman to confront his greatest fears. Superman has long been frightened by the idea that he can’t save everyone. Despite all his powers, bad things still happen in the world and he is unable to prevent them all. We see that first hand in a stunning double-page spread broken up into fractured panels spinning out of his head, each one depicting a different fear.
The difference with Superman now is that he’s a family man. As such, he has a new set of fears that come with having a wife and child. These are terrors that every father and husband has. The idea of losing your significant other and, perhaps even worse, letting down your son or daughter, is heartbreaking and absolutely terrifying. This is compounded by the emphasis on a specific fear, with Jon losing control and blaming Clark for it. He was so busy saving everyone else that he couldn’t save his own son. It’s enough to tear you up inside.
I wish I could tell you who drew this phenomenal sequence, but it’s not clear. Ed Benes, Tyler Kirkham, & Philip Tan all contributed artwork to this issue and there is not a clear credit as to who handled which pages. This renews my frustrations with some of DC’s twice-monthly titles as it results in inconsistent artwork. Usually this is issue-to-issue and not packing three different artists into one chapter. This is more jarring as the art changes from page to page, creating a very uneven reading experience.
The Parallax entity is still just as creepy as it’s ever been. It’s like a Gremlin merged with a xenomorph. Although it embodies fear and certainly creates it from its very being, it’s in an odd position here. It doesn’t want to be imprisoned by Sinestro again, however there doesn’t appear to be another option for it. If only there was a hero that could help all creatures, big and small…
Writer Keith Champagne captured the pure essence of Superman in this storyline. Superman’s battle with Sinestro, as well as his confrontation with Parallax, is pitch perfect. It embodies everything the character stands for and why people look to him for hope. He might as well lead the Blue Lantern Corps with what he’s capable of. Superman represents the best in us and it’s something that we can all aspire to. The follow-up to the Parallax storyline will appear in future issues of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.