With all of Superman’s adventures, sometimes he has some things left unfinished. There’s just not enough time in the day. Such was the case with Captain Storm, an ally left to fight for himself on Dinosaur Island during an earlier story in this series. This has nagged Superboy for some time so he’s convinced his dad to head back there and help out their friend, bringing him home once and for all.
Before we get too far into this review for the Superman Special, I just want to acknowledge that young Jonathan Kent has been keeping a World War II era prosthetic leg in his room for at least a few months. I used to collect or pick up weird stuff when I was a kid too, but this one takes the cake. I really hope he at least hosed it down before casually putting it on his dresser like a weird trophy.
I say that in jest because Jon is a pretty sweet kid. You can see how this has weighed on him, especially since Storm helped them when they were stranded on Dinosaur Island. He doesn’t deserve to be eaten by monsters. Artist Scott Godlewski perfectly showcases the character in a full-page spread as he sits in his pajamas clutching the fake leg. Jon looks up at his father with hope in his eyes, like a normal kid might when asking for a new game console for Christmas. Superman is hovering above having just returned from dropping off some criminals at the police station. Quick note here, the trunks are on full display.
Godlewski draws a great Superman. You have the typical strongman, but his solid jaw is accentuated, giving him a more square-like look that works well here. The Man of Steel definitely earns that name with this design. There’s also this humble quality to it, like you’d half expect him to say “Aw, shucks” at any moment.
We bounce from this to full-fledged chaos at Dinosaur Island. The action is ratcheted up as Storm runs for his life from a horde of dinosaurs. I don’t care who you are or how old you get, these animals will always be cool. Godlewski drops us in with a gorgeous double-page spread and then follows it up with an incredibly detailed eleven panel grid focusing on specific moments like Storm pulling a trigger, a dinosaur’s footsteps, or blood spraying from bullets hitting their target. This is an awesome way to move to a new location that quickly sums up the setting and the danger it contains.
The Superman Special has what might be my favorite panel of the year when Clark and Jon teleport onto Dinosaur Island. I don’t want to spoil this moment because it came as a complete surprise to me, but suffice it to say, it’s simultaneously beautiful and hilarious. It’s a solid bit of comic relief after a rather tense scene.
Colorist Gabe Eltaeb makes the Superman Special pop with a gorgeous palette. The scenes on Dinosaur Island are particularly engaging. You can see the wide variety of dangers this place possesses in both the flora and fauna.
Captain Storm gets a large chunk of this story. This struck me as odd and a little off-putting at first because I’m not all that invested in this character, however writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason do a great job in fleshing him out. They put him in an interesting situation as a man out of time and show how he’s dealing with returning to the real world after spending so much time on an island full of monsters. It’s an intriguing look at post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are two bonus stories included in the Superman Special that complement the main tale. Both show what a downright good guy Clark Kent is. It sums up what he stands for and why he’s such an awesome hero in the truest sense of the word. These are two more in an ever-growing list of reasons why Superman has stood strong for eighty years.
While the Superman Special is a great comic from beginning to end, it is a little bittersweet as it represents the end of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s run on the title. This is finished with a literal closing door at the end of their story that could not have been more perfect. They’ve added some amazing elements to the Superman mythos that I hope stay with the character for some time. It has been such a phenomenal read and this is a nice way to close it out.