Superman: Man of Tomorrow #4
Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 11, 2020
Cover date: May 2020
“The Buried Past”
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Reviewed by: Craig Boehmer
Superman wakes up from a nightmare and it is revealed he has been having recurring battles with a Swamp Thing like creature. Lois encourages him to dig deeper into the story which prompts him to visit one of the fields where he battled the creature. He discovers radioactive waste has been buried in the field. The creature appears again resulting in another fight between the two. After the creature disappears, Superman goes to each field where the creature has appeared, and discovers radioactive waste buried in each field. Lois’ investigation discovers that a reporter, Wendell Moore, wrote an article about the buried waste years ago, and then was never seen again.
Superman heads to the land’s owner’s home, Albemarle Bryce, in time to protect him from the monster, who they reveal as the dead Moore. Bryce admits that he murdered the reporter but has no regret for doing so. Lois records the conversation and published the story the next day resulting in Bryce’s arrest.
Story – 4: Early in the issue there is a scene where Clark rips his suit on a barbed wire fence while investigating a farmer’s field. I always love scenes of Clark on an empty field, it reminds me of the great interactions in Smallville between him and Pa, and the Superman Rebirth run. This scene is a great play on the ongoing joke between Lois and Clark about the cost of replacing all his suits. When he confronts the creature in the field I did not like how quickly he was willing to fight the Wendell Moore “monster.” I liked the interaction Greg Pak’s version of Superman in “What Lies Beneath” arc had with Baka. Because this issue only refers to past battles and doesn’t show them, Superman’s quick attack on the creature doesn’t seem warranted. Being a giant ugly looking creature shouldn’t be enough reason for Superman to start punching you. Now Superman does come around on the monster and works to help it. I think this story would have been better if it had been over two issues. In just the one story it seemed very rushed, having Superman reference the previous fights rather than showing them didn’t work for me as I explained. And as much as I liked the pay off to Lois and Clark’s early conversation about monologuing, it seemed too easy as a resolution to the confrontation between Moore and Bryce.
This format must seem frustratingly constraining to Venditti. These brief issues and there one and done nature do not allow him to create a large earth-shattering story. My favorite Superman stories are either giant, epic stories or small intimate tales. The vey best, like All Star, do both. This issue once again shows that Venditti gets the small intimate moments. He is at his best when he focuses on the interactions between Lois and Clark. They tease each other, they flirt with each other, and they support each other. I want to see Venditti tackle an ongoing where he could create a giant story that maintains the character moments he has shown thus far in these short digital issues.
Art – 5: The art is, again, very well done. Pelletier is can draw a great Superman. The use of blue circles around Clark’s eyes to show when he is using his X-Ray vision, and the similar blue circles around what he is looking at was a nice touch. The design of the “monster” is awesome in its horrifying nature, it’s a visceral looking force of nature. It looks like it should be a match for Superman.
Panel showing Moore and Mr. Bryce blacked out against a white wall and orange windowpanes, is so different from the colour palette of the rest of the issue that it shocks the reader in a good way. The subtle blues and greens of the issue are replaced for that panel by black, white and orange to great effect.
Cover Art – 5: The cover is well drawn. It provides a great view of Wendell Moore’s monster hovering over an unconscious Superman. The design of the monster is threatening and creepy. I love the seemingly glowing greenish blue veins that run across his body. The overall vibe of the cover is ominous hinting at a threat that is never really built upon in the comic.
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