Mild Mannered Reviews – Superman #23

Superman #23

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Superman #23

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 7, 2020
Cover date: September 2020

“Chaos” – Part One

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Kevin Maguire & John Timms
Cover: John Timms & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover: Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Agent Bisette is racing to DEO headquarters with an ancient artifact. As she approaches she sees Adam Strange arrive on earth and rescue Director Bones and several DEO staffers from a monstrous being. Agent Bisette rushes back to her car and is horrified as the artifact begins to react to the attack.

That was three weeks ago.

Today, Superman arrives at Justice League headquarters, greeted by Zan and Jayna. They tell him the Pulitzer committee have agreed Clark is allowed to keep his accolades despite the fraud committed.

Civilians visiting the Hall of Justice race to meet the now ‘unmasked’ Clark Kent. Dr. Fate, however, arrives to interrupt the photo opportunities. Several Justice Leaguers greet Superman in the library. Amongst them, Detective Chimp, Zatanna, Man Bat, Swamp Thing and John Constantine.

Zatanna is friendly but tells Clark there is no way magic can reverse his secret identity problem. Clark assures her that his reason for visiting is not to erase his decision but to have a private consultation with Dr. Fate. A portal opens and whisks Clark away.

Superman finds himself in the Tower of Fate for a mystical ‘check-up’ mostly at the behest of his wife Lois. Lois and several other League members are concerned his actions since Rogol Zaar arrived have been a chain reaction caused by magical means. Dr. Fate reveals his current identity as former Pre-Med, Khalid Nassour and that he finds no mystical nor physical reason for Superman’s bizarre decisions.

Khalid is stunned to hear the recent events and finally, the Man of Steel breaks down and admits Jon’s aging up broke him. Superman struggles with why he made the decision to reveal his identity.

Khalid attempts to make sense of the strange goings on in Superman’s life. Agent Bisette has arrived at the Hall of Justice. Having defeated Madame Xanadu and stolen another artifact, possessed by evil magic the Agent knocks out everyone in the Hall and opens the portal to the Tower of Fate.

A magical being appears before Khalid and Clark, professing to be Xanadoth, the Lord of the Lords of Chaos and the original owner of the helmet of Fate.

To be continued…

4Story – 4: Finally after so long, the storylines since Action Comics #1001 to now. Khalid, being a relatively new player to the superhero game, is taken aback by just how bizarre Superman’s life has been. In many ways Dr. Fate is the embodiment of the reader and as the stories are spoken out loud we realize just how insane the storylines have been. Clark finally acknowledges losing Jon and his childhood utterly devastated him. Ownership by the writer for what he’s done realized ‘in-universe’ is a clever way to recap things even if it doesn’t offer any real answers.

The Agent Bisette storyline is a bit of a rehash of “Ghostbusters II” but instead of Vigo the Carpathian, we have Xanadoth the lord of the lords of chaos… ok… I’m perplexed by the DEO appearance. Leviathan literally obliterated the building and killed off all its employees except for Supergirl and her father Jeremiah Danvers. Continuity is a strange animal at the best of times, but in an issue addressing continuity, it makes it a glaring oddity.

4Art – 4: The art styles of John Timms and Kevin Maguire couldn’t be more different. Somehow this issue they seem to work. I think Maguire has a fantastic technique and it really shines with so much of the story focused on character moments. The facial expressions really show Clark’s turbulent emotions.

4Cover Art – 4: The art is fantastic here I really like this scene. The problem for me is that the coloring and digital effects overpower the beautiful line work. I wish it were less busy.

4Variant Cover Art – 4: I really like the artwork but I thought lightning had an effect on Superman? I think there is a little too much emphasis on the storm in the background. I wish Superman were bigger and that the lightning didn’t just pass through him like a ghost because Hitch draws a great Man of Steel.

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