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Review – Superman #19 (DC Comics)

Overall
7.7/10
7.7/10
  • Writing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Art - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Overall - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
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Superman #19

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado, Danny Miki, Julio Ferreira & Oclair Albert
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: AndWorld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen +
Release Date: January 22nd, 2019

Will Clark Kent’s life ever be “normal” again? How will he handle the consequences of Superman’s big reveal? This time around, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Prado are slowing things down, delivering a heartfelt issue that won’t soon be forgotten.  

The Truth Shall Set You Free in Superman #19

In Superman #19, the world is still reeling from the news that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. Back in Metropolis the newly “outed” Man of Steel is attempting to put the pieces of his life back in order. Will things ever be the same now that the truth has been revealed? Can Clark Kent and Superman ever truly coexist? 

Writing

Superman #19 (DC Comics) main cover by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis
Superman #19 (DC Comics) main cover by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis

This is my first tango with writer Brian Michael Bendis. Odd as it may seem, I actually haven’t read a Marvel comic in almost 20 years, so my frame of reference is limited, to say the least. I knew him pretty much by reputation only, which, more often than not, is a recipe for disappointment. Luckily, in the case of my new best friend BMB, such was not the case.  

Bendis cuts to the bone in Superman #19. His writing is engaging, witty, endearing, and heartwarming. But what really makes Brian Michael Bendis special isn’t just because of what he’s able to present on a surface level. There’s a much deeper, much more significant message buried in his words and between the panels. 

“Tell me the real truth.”

It’s my belief that Bendis is using Superman’s “truth” revelation as an allegory for “coming out” to the world around you. You may think this is a stretch, but if you pay careful attention to the language and rhetoric, the meaning behind the words is hard to ignore. This isn’t the first time Bendis has used one of his characters as a vessel to communicate an ideological stance. Many will, no doubt, remember that it was Bendis who revealed Iceman was gay after having his mind read by Jean Grey. 

If nothing else, Superman #19 is thought-provoking without being preachy. It’s political, minus all of the politics that usually get in the way. Bendis is proving his mettle, establishing himself as an equal among giants in the very early stages of his DC writing career.  

Art

Artist Ivan Reis is slowing things down in Superman #19, taking a moment to highlight the “human” impact of Superman’s big reveal. The big question Reis is asking readers this month is “how will this affect Clark Kent?” With most of the issue centering around a table discussion between Clark, Lois, and Perry, Reis has ample opportunity to convey the emotional uncertainty that persists throughout. 

Another important detail is the importance of Superman in the lives of those he knows and works with. There is one scene, in particular, that’s incredibly touching. When Clark emerges from Perry’s office to join the “bullpen”, he is greeted by a swarm of friends and colleagues. Each of them takes a moment to approach Clark and offers their heartfelt “thanks” by giving him a hug. It’s crazy to think that at one point or another, Clark literally saved all of their lives. Watching them express their gratitude is overwhelming and easily one of the most memorable panels so far this year.  

Where to even begin with Alex Sinclair? I mean, how do you even begin to critique the Godfather of Color? The man is a pure genius. Sinclair says more with the color “red” than most writers could convey with the entire dictionary at their disposal. He is unquestionably a Master in his medium and quite simply one of my favorite colorists working today. 

Conclusion

Once more, I’m positively delighted to say how much I’m enjoying this arc. Superman #19 is a beautifully crafted statement about acceptance and presenting your true self to the world—especially when faced with the possibility of rejection. Bendis’ words are nothing short of inspirational and I’d wager that there will be many misty-eyed readers before the covers are closed. The human element of Superman has always fascinated me. The way he embraces both sides of his identity is unlike any other hero we’ve seen. Everything is “wine and roses” for the moment but I’m most excited about what’s inevitably to come. Like how, exactly, will Lex Luthor or the rest of the Legion of Doom use this information to their advantage? 


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Jordan Claes

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