Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Adam Huges, Jason Fabok / DC Comics
Man of Steel #5 is beautifully illustrated and the opening sparring match between Superman and Rogal Zaar is breathtaking. As the two battle to the brink in the void of space, all limitations Superman tries to keep have been removed. This is no hold barrels type of brawl. This is a beautiful brutal bash. Hughes creates a sense of immense gravity and weight and I adore the fight. Yet, all of this spectacle is overshadowed by my ambivalence to the other narrative threads in this series.
The mystery of Jon and Lois has continued to progress predictably, and it feels like Bendis had such a clear conception of the stories he wanted to tell with Superman and it feels very clear that those stories did not involve Superboy or the World’s Greatest Detective (yes. That would be Lois. Superman has made this clear) so they’re getting written out so Clark can have more things to stress over. The circumstances are at least plausible, but as someone who was very fond of the Superfamily dynamic (and someone who keeps seeing Bendis talk about how this is family-centric Superman) it seems weird to temporarily write them out of the greater narrative. Especially when the new fire chief takes up that space and gets more dynamic screen time.
My very deep set opinions of the Superfamily dynamic aside, I found myself enjoying the sequences with Supergirl. Her presence is a welcome counterbalance to the story, and she provides some of the more empathic moments in the story. We don’t get the same window into her mind, but Hughes masterfully tells the story through body language.
But the men of the hour are Rogol Zaar and Superman, and while I love Superman, Rogol Zaar gave me one interesting speech way back at the beginning of the series. There are very clearly defined stakes. The action is quick paced. The plot is finally picking up. I have to admit that the final spread is tantalizing. The epic conclusion to the mini-series is next week and yet, I am more curious than I am anticipatory.
7.1 “Circles with a Thing In It” out of 10
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