Mild Mannered Reviews – The Man of Steel #3

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The Man of Steel #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 13, 2018

Cover date: August 2018

“Man of Steel” – Part 3

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook (and Jason Fabok)
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Cover: Ivan Reis

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Our issue begins with Rogol Zaar’s arrival on Earth, as he lands close to the Fortress of Solitude. He makes his way into the Fortress, and is stopped by Kelex. Asking him to identify himself. Rogol makes short work of Kelex, and then walks over to the Bottle City of Kandor… “KAN-DOR!” – Rogol Zaar.

Over in Metropolis Melody Moore is investigating a building that has recently had its fire extinguished, when she is startled that Superman is there doing the same. What startles her more is the fact that he is not alone, and is joined by The Batman, whom Superman has asked to help shed some light on these recent arson’s. Batman brings up some points with Melody, when she discovers that Superman has left.

Superman makes his way to the Fortress, as he heard the alarm from the Fortress go off, once he gets there, he is greeted with the horror of his Fortress decimated, and Kelex ripped apart and destroyed.

Supergirl arrives having also heard the alarm from the Fortress, and she and Superman look on as they both discover the Bottled City of Kandor destroyed and its remains scattered on the ground.

An angry Superman flies upward, and thinks back to the fateful night that his apartment was invaded, with Lois and Jon also there.

Supergirl follows her cousin, and asks who could have done this, Superman rattles off a bunch of names from his rogues gallery, none of which seem to be right. He tells Supergirl to go get those she cares for to safety, and then come and find him, as he heads to Metropolis, following a trail left by the perpetrator.

Once in Metropolis he checks his apartment and the Daily Planet to see if everyone he knows and loves are safe. He is then blasted out of the sky by the very being he is in search of. After catching himself, he dives in toward his target, only to be blasted again, this time he discovers that the blast doesn’t dissipate on contact, like he expected. Flying out of control, Supergirl manages to catch him and they both fly toward the being responsible for turning their world upside down.

“Hey dead guy… You got anything to say for yourself?” – Supergirl.

To be continued…

5Story – 5: Another well written chapter in this story by Bendis, even though it’s pace was as slow as a slug racing a snail. The drip feeding of story elements would have a negative impact, had this mini-series not been a weekly affair.

As for the story this issue, as I mentioned above, it is really well written, from the opening scene of Rogol Zaar landing on Earth near the Fortress of Solitude to the semi cliffhanger ending. Last week I speculated if Rogol was a Czarnian the same as Lobo, well Bendis managed to squash that theory, as Kelex confirmed that he is of unknown species. Even though he shares a resemblance with Lobo and Tyrell from Superman: Earth One (who is not a Czarnaian either).

Rogol destroys the Bottled City of Kandor, along with the rest of the Fortress, and though that is a tragic element, I felt that it held little gravitas, as not much had been done or even mentioned lately in regards to the bottled city. At first I thought that this may have been the very same version that Geoff Johns established in his Superman: Brainiac story line, but then I remembered that that lead to the World of New Krypton series, where again, Kandor, the then New Krypton, was destroyed. The Bottled City of Kandor is a large part of the Superman mythos, so it is a rather sad feeling to not actually care much for its destruction. However, we should remember that this is no fault of Bendis’ by any means. The cover titles this issue as “Revealed! The maniac that killed Krypton”, yet there was very little of the so called reveal of him actually killing the planet Krypton, so I wonder if the destruction of the Bottled City is what the title is actually alluding to.

The Fortress on the other hand is a whole different matter, as it has played a huge role since Rebirth/Reborn. Having it destroyed lead me to ask, if Superman is to rebuild his Fortress, will he manage to restore it to what it has been, or will be see a whole new version?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind them stepping away from the crystal-tech theme that was adopted after Superman Returns, which was really hammered home even more by Geoff Johns in his run on the character, and his love for Superman: The Movie. Something a little different may be work better in the dawn of this “Bendis Era”.

Batman’s appearance in this issue was a nice nod to the 1986 Man of Steel mini-series, where issue #3 was the one that featured Batman, and established the new dynamic between them then. You could say the same for this era, with his appearance in this issue. I liked that he didn’t take over the issue with his presence, as some writers tend to do with him. And the line “I’m Batman” is starting to get a little clichéd now. Also loved that they are in the Gammill District A nice little nod to one time, Superman penciller Kerry Gammill.

The crux of the issue I felt was the character moments. Over the last few issues, Bendis has defined a voice for Superman. From his politeness, his concern for his friends and family to his drive in helping humanity, Bendis has managed to not redefine, but rather highlight the traits of Superman that are his core attributes. So I liked the line by Batman “If the politest man in the galaxy has to be somewhere so fast he can’t even say goodbye… There’s a good reason”. And Superman himself thinking “Why do I love the sound of Perry White’s panicked…” shows his big brotherly role in the DCU. Superman is the one man in the DCU that whose very presence makes people feel relieved and calm, and those on the wrong side of the law, a little fearful. Which is what it should be. Superman is not Spider-Man, the Hulk or even Batman, where he should be feared constantly and his motivations questioned. This is what Bendis has done right so far, and also not changing the character to suit the story he is telling. I appreciate and hold this in high regard of him as a writer.

I don’t have much to say about Supergirl, as her appearance has yet to play out fully, though I did enjoy that she wasn’t a whiny teenager as she is sometimes portrayed, and look forward to seeing what role she will play, now that she and her cousin have come face to face with Rogol Zaar. It also appears that we have caught up to the events of Action Comics #1000.

Lastly and what seems to be the most talked about aspect of this mini series… Lois and Jon! As many of us have gathered, their story will most likely culminate at the conclusion of this mini-series. However, I do love to speculate, and gathering from something Superman said to Supergirl, after she asks if they are okay, Clark responds with ” I-yes, they’re… They’re not here”. I took this to mean that Clark doesn’t actually know where they may be, simply that they have been possibly taken… Taken by the mysterious fellow in the bug-like ship. We only see him in shadow, and he appears to be bald (unless he has a tight head covering), and the coloring of his hand, appears to make him Caucasian. My first reaction was Lex or even Brainiac (because of the 3 round lights in the ship in a triangular formation), but again the Caucasian hand and the fact that Clark speculates that Luthor may be behind the attack on the Fortress, leads me to believe that this character most likely is someone else entirely. Maybe one of the Legion, or the Fourth World?… Please, do let me know what you think in the comments section.

I have been following the comments and the discussions in the comments section, and I just want to say a big thank you to all that have been leaving comments and starting discussions. I do read them, and some of you really bring up great points.

5Art – 5: The opening page this issue is Earth, while previously we had Krypton before and during its explosion. Loved the way it lead into Rogol Zaar’s arrival on Earth.

So this issue we have Ryan Sook on pencils, who provides a moodier rendition of Superman, than the previous artists. Though his style is very similar to Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner from last issue. It also resembles Adam Hughes style, who will be on the art duties for the next. Which is a great way to transition each issue with different art teams.

Sook’s style fits in well with Superman, as he gives us a very classic looking yet modern interpretation to our Man of Steel. I loved the panel where Melody Moore comes across Superman, and he peeks below the shadow and gives her a friendly smile and wave. Also really liked the panel that that closes in on his eyes, as he see’s the horror of the recently destroyed Fortress. Sook managed to capture the heartbreak and pain of someone who’s home has been violated in such a devastating manner.

I’ve mentioned previously, every artist should have a really good flying pose for Superman, so the double page spread as Superman arrives back in Metropolis searching for Rogol Zaar is rather amazing, and emotes concern that Superman has, as to his new adversary.

Speaking of Rogol Zaar, we are introduced to him a few pages in, as he touches down on Earth. It is evident that he has been involved in some hard stresses over the years, since we last saw him, in issue #1. Sook manages to show his battle scars rather effectively, with his dead eye, and half his mouth and nose completely missing off of his face. His slight resemblance to Swamp Thing in the nose area, is the first thing I noticed, and if I were to have seen these pages without color, I would have thought it actually was Swamp Thing. Rogol’s savage brutality as he destroys Kelex is a wonderful precursor to the not shown destruction he causes the Fortress. The shattered remains of Kandor was a little heartbreaking, even though I said that there was very little remorse from the continuity end of things.

Really loved the Daily Planet scene, where Perry, Jimmy and Robinson watch Superman’s body be thrown past the windows from Rogol Zaar’s blast. Followed by Supergirl catching his limp body mid air.

Onto our special guests, firstly Supergirl, Sook manages to draw a rather sleek Kara Zor-El, and depicts her current costume better than some artists have in recent memory. The thigh high boots look a little odd, but that may be more the design of them, over Sook’s rendition of them. My favorite scene is the tragic panel of her agony fueled scream, as Clark looks down in regret when we see the broken city of Kandor.

Regarding Batman, Sook, just like Supergirl manages to draw him well. Though he is featured in 9 panels over 2 pages, Sook manages to keep his appearance subtle, by using the shadows to his advantage, which I thought was rather clever, as he does not instantly take over the story with his appearance. Sook paced the visuals very well, which I feel helped with the slower pace of the story as a whole.

As mentioned in last issues review, it is evident still that Jason Fabok’s flashback scenes will continue to build to his eventual issue #6, where he takes on the sole art duties. Which is further evidence of that Lois and Jon’s story arc will culminate then and there.

Lastly as usual, I need to mention Alex Sinclair’s colors. Just as the previous two issues, his colors have kept the tone of the art consistent. They are bold and vivid, however, this issue one thing stood out that didn’t quite sit right with me, which was the tears that Superman shed for Kandor. Coloring them blue as he did, made me feel as if he was leaking blue liquid from his eyes, rather than tears. A subtle white would have been more effective, but its a small nitpick.

5Cover Art – 5: Ivan Reis covers continue to amaze. Disregarding Rogol killing Krypton, baby Kalel’s ship has yet a new design, half Donner-esque, half Silver Age. Does make me miss the Post-Crisis birthing matrix though. Still a nice cover.

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Kal L
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Kal L

I wonder who is setting all the fires to the buildings?…
The Lois and Jon thing is getting old and fast. I have a feeling that Bendis is messing with the family dynamic of Clark, Lois and Jon, to give Superman some “depth”… I think he’s completely missing the mark.

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My problem with this series thus far is that Bendis falls into the same trap a lot of comic writers do. They don’t take any time to establish their worlds and set up the pins before knocking them down. Basic rule of storytelling: Chekhov’s Gun. If you are going to destroy Kandor in issue 3, you need to show it in issue 1. If you want me to care that you destroyed Kandor, you first have to explain to me why it’s important. And yes, as a lifelong Superman fan, I know why it’s important. But also, as a lifelong… Read more »

Kal L
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Kal L

I guess no one will be discussing this issue much at all. May have to do with all the new comic book news that’s come out, but also may have to do with Bendis run starting to fizzle due to his style of writing.