Superman #3 is Earth Shattering, Literally

by Tony Thornley

I was a bit nervous when I heard a rumor that Superman was going to launch with a twelve issue storyarc. I had flashbacks to For Tomorrow the notorious twelve issue Superman story that ended up meandering and bloated. However, there’s a moment in Superman #3 that makes a definitive statement about Superman, as well as a thesis statement about this entire story arc. Now I’m sold.

Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Oclair Albert, Alex Sinclair and Josh Reed continue from the strong start the series had here. This issue picks up with the world still in chaos. After last issue’s initial shock, Superman leads to charge to figure out what happened and how to solve it.

Earth is in the Phantom Zone and they need to get it out before the planet is torn apart. Clark rushes across the planet, trying to keep order, and organize Earth’s heroes and super-scientists. Meanwhile, Rogol Zaar rallies Superman’s foes trapped in the Zone…

I actually kind of like what Bendis is doing between these two titles. In Action, he’s writing a relatively standard Superman story, with his classic flair for characterization. Here though, he goes all in with an epic event.

There are two incredibly strong things Bendis does here. The first is that he truly does make the story feel epic. This story is an event, with the entire planet affected, and it has that scale and scope.

However, Bendis keeps the focus on Superman. The other Justice Leaguers appear. They are a part of the story. However, it’s a Superman story and that’s abundantly clear in several ways.

I’ve really enjoyed the characterization of Superman we’ve seen as well. Bendis gets Clark Kent as shown in Action Comics, but here he shows that Superman is almost a different character. At their core they’re the same valiant, unshakeable hero, but he accomplishes that in two vastly different ways. The best display of that is when he stops a mob of looters with just five words, the brilliant scene I alluded to in the opening paragraph.

I have always loved Ivan Reis’s line art. Here Reis, Prado and Albert keep up with the scope of the story so well. The opening scene – with one of Superman’s foes stumbling into the crisis on accident – is such a highlight that plays with Reis’s range. It swings from comedy, to horror, to the impact of Superman’s arrival all in just a few pages. The entire issue is like this, and it just looks great.

Sinclair has some fun in this issue. The Earth is in a state it’s never been in before, so he plays with lighting, effects, and the strange atmosphere. Where Reis, Prado and Albert sell the immediacy of the situation, Sinclair gives us the surreal nature of the setting perfectly.

I was one of the fans that tried to maintain cautious optimism about the Bendis Superman era. The entire team is proving that was a wise decision.

Superman #3 is available now from DC Comics.

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