Years ago, Rogol Zaar somehow destroyed Krypton. After recently learning of Superman’s existence, he hightails it to Earth in an effort to eliminate the Kryptonian race forever. In other news, Lois and Jon are still missing, and Batman comes to Metropolis to help investigate the series of fires that have plagued the city.
We’ve now reached the halfway point of Man of Steel. After three issues, the story hasn’t progressed all that much. Honestly, it hasn’t given us any new information that wasn’t in the short story featured in Action Comics #1000. We learned in that tale that Rogol Zaar destroyed Krypton while he was on Earth fighting Superman and Supergirl. That is pretty much where we’re at now after three issues.
While Rogol Zaar is shaping up to be a fearsome foe, he’s basically a smarter version of Doomsday. He’s big, strong, and relentless. This, coupled with the fact that we’re looking at a potentially single Superman with the trunks, feels like the character’s status quo is getting pushed back a few decades.
That being said, we already knew Rogol Zaar was a heinous villain since he destroyed an entire planet and a whole race of people. In Man of Steel #3, he commits such a horrendous act that there is no doubt as to the lengths this monster will go to accomplish his goal. It’s something that deeply affects Superman’s history and cuts pretty deep. After this, Clark shouldn’t be holding back at all. This guy deserves every punch that’s about to be thrown.
Artist Ryan Sook delivers a number of impressive double-page spreads packed with smaller panels to give you an idea of every aspect of a scene. When Rogol Zaar enters the Fortress of Solitude, you see each detail of this experience as he looks around astonished and disgusted that any semblance of Krypton still stands. This would carry more weight if we knew why he hates Krypton so much. All we know is that he felt they should be destroyed.
Rogol Zaar’s stilted speech makes me think he was trapped somewhere or in suspended animation after Krypton’s destruction. That would explain why he’s only recently learned of Superman. Despite this, he can still hold his won, shooting out extremely powerful energy blasts that give Superman pause.
Sook’s layouts extend to the scenes with Superman, such as when he’s searching for Rogol Zaar. You get the sense of just how quickly and efficiently he is when looking for something so important. He canvasses all the main spots in Metropolis in a blink of an eye, appearing as a red and blue blur soaring through the sky. This adds to the excitement as we build up to the confrontation between these two forces of nature.
Alex Sinclair’s colors provide some nice contrast between the harsh yellow of the energy blasts and the signature red and blue of Superman’s outfit. The explosive bursts create dark shadows on him. Perhaps the best use of color in this issue is the shocking blue of Superman’s tears after he sees what Rogol Zaar has done. They stand out and really put this violence into perspective.
At this point, the story about the fires feels like it’s part of a different comic. Every time we check in with Deputy Fire Chief Moore, we get some fun dialogue as she is still getting used to living in a city where an alien can swoop in at a moment’s notice to lend a hand. Writer Brian Michael Bendis gets some additional quips in with Batman with some great interactions between the three characters. When Superman leaves suddenly, Batman explains that when the most polite man in the world leaves without saying goodbye, it must be serious. Then he goes home. You’d think if the threat was that severe, he’d want to help out.
Man of Steel is a very slow burn that hasn’t had much of a payoff yet. Yes, the dialogue has been fun and the artwork has been solid, but as mentioned above, the story hasn’t moved all that much. This is a very decompressed tale that feels like it could have fit into half of the space. Fortunately, this is a weekly series, so it’s not being drawn out over the course of six months. From the way this issue ends, it looks like things will hopefully pick up as this mini-series leads into Bendis’ run on Action Comics and Superman.