Fly or Crash With the Conclusion of The Man of Steel #6
Brian Michael Bendis concludes his first expedition into the world of the Man of Steel. He finally reveals what he’s done with Jon and Lois even though we’ve all decided to hate it already anyways! So should readers be like Jon and Lois and disappear from the Superman books? Or like Rogol Zaar have their fascination with Kryptonians been reignited? At least, no matter the outcome, Jason Fabok will make The Man of Steel #6 beautiful.
Writing: Jon and Lois
No matter your opinion on Man of Steel, it can’t be denied that Brian Michael Bendis has a firm grasp of Clark’s voice. Monologues about the beauty in human existence and humble diatribes about setting aside ego have firmly supplanted this as a believable Superman story. This issue acts as both confirmations of this fact we’ve known since issue one and a refutation of what many readers believed after reading Man of Steel #5. Bendis does not butcher Jon.
Now that the story of Jon and Lois’s disappearance has taken center stage, Jon’s actions have been explained. This makes him much more digestible as the Jon Kent that readers have come to know. I don’t know if validity by retroactive explanation will be enough for every reader though, and it’s understandable if it isn’t. Nevertheless, Jon’s motivation is both built out of his own continuity history and the emotions and developments you would expect a child at that age to be going through.
There are, however, other valid complaints readers could have about this situation. Clark and Lois’s decision-making process is different. Some will see their compassion in it, but some will see it as out of character. The thing is though, this story doesn’t really do anything to alleviate the fear readers had about Bendis’ treatment of Jon, Lois, or the Super-family. It’s simply transferred down the line to the next story where he could conceivably do something terrible to them.
Writing: Rogol Zaar
If your complaint was the Rogol Zaar’s motivation wasn’t explained thoroughly enough or that he’s underdeveloped then this is not the issue for you. Nothing new is learned about Rogol Zaar. He’s honestly a background piece when compared to the Jon and Lois story. The only thing to really say about this part of the issue is that it gives us both more time with Bendis’s Supergirl, who is wonderful, and it feels as if it was written to give Jason Fabok room to work. There’s nothing significant story-wise here that we don’t already know as readers.
If you don’t already know how good Jason Fabok’s art is then you owe it to yourself to seek it out. He’s the “king” of house style right now, having surpassed artists like Jim Lee in recent years. This issue is just another credit to his catalog. He draws near-perfect human form and anatomy, as perfect as exaggerated Superhero forms can be. His attention to detail can also be uncanny. For example, he goes out of his way to draw a physical resemblance between Jor-El and Clark, his son.
Fabok portrays emotion poignantly throughout this issue. Whether it’s through how he positions characters or through the emotions on their face, readers are constantly made aware of a character’s exact emotional state. This is especially effective in scenes between Jor-El and the Kent family. Here the Kent family displays a gambit of emotions while Jor-El is constantly cold. It creates an important contrast between the characters.
He also draws the best Rogol Zaar by far. Fabok’s precise attention to detail makes Rogol Zaar feel more like a terrifying otherworldly threat than the alien blobs that Adam Hughes and Steve Rude drew. Despite the lack of actual story attention the character is given, it does feel as if Fabok is trying his hardest to get Rogol over. He makes him immense and violent and cool in a way that other artists haven’t.
In a vacuum, this is far from a bad issue. Bendis delivers a good script which allows characters realistic emotional complexity. He also gives a somewhat satisfying reason for Jon to leave. Then his villain, even if he’s one-note, was cool enough to see in the background. The only problem is the issue doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s far from a satisfying conclusion to Man of Steel. He doesn’t address Rogol Zaar’s motivations, how he destroyed Krypton or his relationship with Jor-El. There isn’t a conclusion to the story regarding the series of arsons. There’s also very little done with the daily planet despite their prominence in earlier issues. The problem is simply that this series was never meant to stand on its own and was always simply going to be an advertisement for Bendis’s Superman run.
With all that said, Jason Fabok draws this issue like his life depended on it. You could print out any page he drew and hang it up as a poster. He really makes this issue worth reading whether you like the story or not.
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