Back in the past, Krypton has exploded, killing millions of people. The mysterious council of powerful entities did not see it coming, but they have a pretty good idea as to who’s to blame since Rogol Zaar asked for permission to eliminate the Kryptonians just the other day. Fast forward to the present day where Superman is keeping Metropolis as safe as he can, despite the fires that have been ravaging buildings all over the city. Could a visit from Green Lantern Hal Jordan help out? And where the heck is Lois Lane?
I want to say up front that I absolutely love Doc Shaner’s Superman. The artist draws an amazing battle between the Man of Steel and the Toyman. He’s facing a gigantic robot and looks like he’s having a blast. This machine dwarfs him in size, but he doesn’t hesitate as he lifts it over his head to fly it away from innocent civilians. Superman rips this thing open with his bare hands and looks down at the sniveling Toyman within who acts like a petulant child. There’s no anger or hatred in this hero. He’s more disappointed that such a genius is wasted on this.
Brian Michael Bendis‘ dialogue is peppy and fun throughout this whole exchange too. Superman is taunting the Toyman as each of the villain’s attacks fall flat. He may have lightning powers and size, but this is Superman we’re talking about.
My ongoing concern with Man of Steel is how things will shake out with Superman’s marriage to Lois and their son Jon. Lois and Jon are absent from this issue and we still don’t know what happened to them. We get a glimpse of something strange from artist Jay Fabok (who also drew a similar scene in the previous issue), but no real information to go on. To the outside world, Superman is doing everything he usually does in terms of saving the world. If anything, he’s acting like a free-wheeling guy with no strings attached.
The way this is set up, it makes me wonder if Lois and Jon are being held hostage somewhere. If Superman were to reveal that his family was kidnapped, even to his closest friends, their lives could be put in danger. How else could we explain the strange way he’s acting? Otherwise, even he doesn’t know where they are.
There is a heartbreaking scene after Superman takes out the Toyman where he retreats to the moon and basically collapses. It’s like he’s put on a front for everyone else on Earth and was able to steal away a moment to deal with his grief over losing his wife and son. This is a brief sequence from artist Steve Rude that speaks volumes.
Shaner, Rude, and Fabok all contributed artwork to Man of Steel #2. While they’re all solid artists, the changes in style can be jarring to the reader. I understand this is a weekly series and the deadlines were probably tight, but it has created a disruptive reading experience. I can only imagine how this whole thing is going to look once it’s collected into a trade paperback.
The bit at the beginning featuring Lord Gandelo and a Guardian named Appa Ali Apsa arguing over Krypton’s destruction can be a little frustrating. This grouping of powerful beings seemed like they were gathered to protect the galaxy and basically ignored this major threat in Rogol Zaar. The Guardians, as usual, did something stupid that led to a bunch of death. For all their power, they seem rather helpless.
Rogol Zaar’s inclusion in the present day feels a little lazy. Unless he’s been living under a rock for the past thirty or so years, he would have heard about Superman, right? The guy gets around, even to other planets. Instead he basically stumbles upon his name in a bar one day. The modern day design for him makes him look like a poor man’s Lobo, complete with overcompensating space motorcycle. This is a far cry from the menacing villain we saw in Action Comics #1000 and the first issue of this mini-series.
I keep going back and forth on Man of Steel. I want so much to like it and there are some awesome moments, such as the aforementioned battle with Toyman. The mystery that surrounds Superman and his family feels like a strange reboot and I’m worried we’re going to find out that Clark Kent made a deal with the devil for some reason that ended up deleting his marriage, like that One More Day storyline from Spider-Man years ago. I’m still sticking this through.