Mild Mannered Reviews – Superman #19

Superman #19

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Superman #19

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 22, 2020
Cover date: March 2020

“The Truth” – Part 2

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado, Danny Miki, Julio Ferreira and Oclair Albert
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

The Daily Planet lawyers and insurance company are a bag of nerves. Perry has called a meeting with the closest related staff. Lois has temporarily given up running away from her assassin to browse social media. Jimmy has popped by on a break from his world to photograph his friend and Superman has given up his higher vocal tone, hunched stature and spectacles.

Perry shows them a photo of an obliterated Daily Planet and tells them the legal department are worried now Superman has given up the Clark Kent identity this future is inevitable.

Lois looks up from her phone and shrugs that Superman has always been associated with the Daily Planet because he was friends with them, but despite many close calls they are in just as much danger as they always were.

Perry tells Superman that he must fire Clark Kent, but that he would like to hire Superman as a staff writer. With Superman as an official staffer in the bullpen, their sales will skyrocket as he will be able to narrate his adventures as exclusives.

Superman agrees as Perry jokes about no more late deadlines and poor spelling and grammar now he doesn’t have to fake being Clark. Superman reveals he used to do it so his work was on par with Lois.

Superman enters the newsroom and is sheepishly greeted by his colleagues, who are unsure how to react. Former gossip columnist Trish Q approaches Superman and reveals that before Robinson Goode disappeared (in Action Comics) she had discovered his secret herself but didn’t reveal it, because of all the good he did. The office slow claps as Superman begins embracing Trish and her friends.

Later in costume, Superman performs some super feats and is cheered on by the public. Superman cannot hide his sheer happiness. He prepares himself for revealing the truth to the superhero community in the Hall of Justice. How will they react to him formerly having a private life?

In space, the founders of the United Planets are scouting for a planetoid to create their new base. Upon hearing about the formation of their organisation, Mongul attacks them. Superman appears and attempts to save the day. With everything going so well for Superman, will this fight be a walk in the park? Or will he be brought down to earth in a rude awakening from a mocking Mongul?

To Be Continued….

2Story – 2: Continuity be damned, none of the timings match up but what the hell, eh?

Moving on. Perry White decides, to beat the tabloids, the Daily Planet should become one. There is a flawed explanation as to why, but the problem with that is Perry White has always prided himself as a writer and editor of integrity.

There is a lot of comedy thrown in to paper over the cracks, but it makes the reader ask more and more questions. Instead of addressing the real issues, Bendis tries to make every character emulate Chandler Bing from Friends.

There is a touching but implausible moment with Trish Q, a timid gossip columnist that stumbled upon the truth before Superman revealed it. Sentimentality prevented her from doing so and somehow her lie warmed the hearts of her colleagues into welcoming Superman and phasing Clark Kent out. Ok then.

The sugar overload from last issue (Perry’s hug) has not gone away. The Planeteers love him for the truth, the citizens of Metropolis love him for his actions and truth and the superheroes of Earth love him too.

It’s not hard to see that by laying the happiness like treacle on toast the fight with Mongul was going to be a reality check. It was great to see Superman actually being super but the finale was obvious.

I’m really disappointed with this, if you’re going to rehash Truth – TAKE THE RISKS. What’s the point of doing this type of story if you’re not willing to actually deal with the issues? Perry was all jokey, no members of bullpen or the public called him out as a liar and all the superheroes were bizarrely reacting like they’d finally won the never-ending battle – despite what it might mean for those amongst them that have secret identities? If not for Ivan Reis drawing them that way, you’d never know Bruce, Diana, Carter and Arthur disapproved.

Have the courage of your convictions! If you’re going to do this, you should be all in.

3Art – 3: Wow, what a difference rotating inkers make. Some panels and pages look incredible, some look half-hearted and sketch-like. Overall it makes the whole reading experience a bit of an uneven one, especially as I mentioned you had to scrutinize the art to see some of the character reactions. I can understand the quality dip as last issue must have been an exhaustive experience. I can understand for many this won’t be an issue but for me it made for a jarring read.

3Cover Art – 3: At first glance this is pretty cool. A play of the ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow’ art by Curt Swan. The parallels are inescapable, however, the closer you look at the characters other than Superman, the faster you come to realize they are mostly underdeveloped scribbles. In the years before digital publishing this might have been ok but when you can pinch and zoom these days, the foreground and background should have equal importance.

3Variant Cover Art – 3: I can’t quite put my finger on it but Superman’s pose seems really awkward. It is beautifully colored but I am just not a fan of this particular cover. Is he flying straight ahead, swooping upwards or trying to turn around? Each part of his body suggests a different direction. A rarity for me concerning Hitch’s artwork, I usually love his style and composition.

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January 22, 2020 9:16 am

As a professional journalist (having been an editor and reporter for newspapers and news sites) for more than 20 years, it pains me to say this: But I would fire Clark Kent.

He ruined the credibility and objectivity of the Daily Planet for years. Plus, he made the newspaper and its hard-working staff an embarrassment to their profession and the city.

Also, this little publicity stunt by DC won’t last long anyway. Why the heck would he give up his identity when it puts his loved ones and friends in danger? I’m sure the status quo will return to normal.

January 22, 2020 12:45 pm

But if DC is determined to push this it could be a slog of months or years before they finally fix it. They had a good thing going with Rebirth and chucked it all away for “Bendis is coming! Bendis is coming!”

Also this isn’t really about what would actually happen. It’s about a writer who’s IIRC on record as hating secret identities (which begs the question of why are you writing superhero comics then?) and this title gives him his shot to tear down the most famous one of all.

January 22, 2020 10:46 am

Um…is this a joke? What the heck did I just read? No seriously, wha?? So…the aftermath of “Doomsday Clock” hasn’t resulted in the DC Universe main Meta-Earth being in the current post-DDC continuity? The very 12 issue maxi series that ended with restoring Jonathan and Martha Kent as being alive again? Bendis is still moving ahead with this foolishness in spite of the Sr. Kents being around, thus by Clark revealing he’s Superman has placed not only his parents in danger, but that of everyone at the Planet, and Conner, Jon and anyone else closely tied to Superman? What the… Read more »

January 22, 2020 6:50 pm
Reply to  Anthony_Mage

Not sure if or when those changes will be actually implemented. But I think there’s some big upcoming event hullabaloo (because of course there is) that may do it.

January 22, 2020 1:06 pm

I’ve just stopped giving them my money every month. And they know exactly who is to blame…

January 22, 2020 6:51 pm
Reply to  afriend

That’s the only thing they’ll listen to.

January 23, 2020 5:07 pm

Haven’t been reading much of Bendis, but I am well aware of all the controversy (which I totally agree with, this is a dumb idea). I’ll admit, I did enjoy the humor at first, and I thought that some of the Clark moments (like with the gossip columnist) were nice. And the fight with Mongul had some good beats. However, let’s be honest: This is Bendis pretending all is nice and ignoring every single consequence (even flat out waving them off with Lois and Clark). Like, as others have said: When you do this story, GO FOR IT. THERE. ARE.… Read more »