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Review – Superman #2 (DC Comics)

Superman #2 (DC Comics) variant cover (detail) by Adam Hughes
Superman #2
Overall
7.8/10
7.8/10
  • Writing - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Art - 9/10
    9/10
  • Overall - 7.8/10
    7.8/10
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Summary

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Maturity Rating: Teen
Publisher: DC Comics
Release: August 8, 2018

Superman #2 teases more the cosmic epic that begins with Rogol Zaar and it couldn’t be more beautiful.

Enter the Phantom Zone in Superman #2

Story

Superman #2 sees Brian Michael Bendis continue to craft a new history of DC’s cosmos centered around new character: Rogol Zaar. Tamaranians, Thanagarians and Superman IV’s Nuclear Man all make guest appearances in this epic issue. All the guest appearances and Superman himself play second fiddle to Ivan Reis’ beautiful art.

Writing

Superman #2 (DC Comics) main cover by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis
Main cover by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis

Superman #2 acts as a great tease for whatever story Brian Michael Bendis has coming down the pipe. Flashbacks to a war between the Tamaraneans and the Thanagarians led by Rogol Zaar are suitably epic; they tell the reader just enough to want to know more. This excellently builds on Bendis’ earlier work in The Man of Steel which teased an intergalactic council of Raan, Thanagar, Oa, Tamaran and more.

In contrast, Bendis’ main plot moves slowly and doesn’t seem to develop much. Readers and Clark himself are seemingly no closer to understanding why the Earth is in the Phantom Zone than last issue. Then despite the tease of an epic war in his past, Rogol Zaar is no more interesting than he was in the first issue of The Man of Steel. It’s not necessarily that nothing happens in this book, but the fact that Bendis writes events in a passive way. It’s not as if characters are actively taking part in events. Readers are being told that an event happened with a person.

Bendis’ take on Clark still can’t be criticized. Clark is given a truly hopeful disposition in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation, which is bolstered by a personal anecdote. Bendis is good at making Clark feel like a facet of the superhero community by having his anecdotes reflect his relationships with other characters like Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, and the Justice League. While Bendis still seems to be finding his footing in his portrayal of other Justice Leaguers, he does instill them each with a certain reverence for the Man of Steel.

Art

This is the best work Ivan Reis has done since working on Aquaman with Geoff Johns. It’s not quite as good as that, but it showcases Reis’ worldbuilding ability in a way that none of his recent work has been able to. The opening splash pages that detail the flashback are absolutely breathtaking. The Thanagarian and Tamaranian armies are both nearly as detailed as the legions of Atlantis; that simple attention to detail makes both of these races feel more important in the universe than they have in the past decade.

The rest of Superman #2 is typical Ivan Reis fare. It’s clean, grandiose and gorgeous. Reis is far and away the best artist to depict Rogol Zaar. Which is good, as he’s in this issue a lot.

Reis is a gift to this book and makes even the smallest scenes seem larger than life. It often makes you wonder, though, if Reis deserves a bigger script than he’s getting from Bendis. It’s obvious throughout the issue that Reis is doing everything in his power to elevate the slowest parts of the script and make the best parts unforgettable.

Conclusion

Superman #2 is a slow tease with beautiful art. Readers are treated to a few moments of wonder and longer moments of plodding passive nothingness. Reis’ art is enough to bring readers back by itself. In spite of itself though, Bendis’ story also makes a solid case for a return to the next issue.


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About the author

Ryan Perry

Ryan Perry is a News Editorial Major at the University of Southern Mississippi. He started reading comics at the advent of the New 52 in 2011. Some of his favorite runs are Snyder & Capullo's Batman, Invincible, Lemire & Smallwood's Moon Knight, The Sheriff of Babylon, Azzarello and Chiang's Wonder Woman and Thompson & Romero's Hawkeye. He also enjoys movies, cartoons and pretending he's Green Arrow because he's shot a bow and arrow at least twice.

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