This title has been a mixed bag for me. The main thing that’s been bothering me is the characterization of Superman, who’s been written way out of character for the past 5 issues. Despite that, I’ve been enjoying the action beats and the solid artwork. Will this title find its footing, right before its conclusion? Let’s find out!
First things first, Superman is back! I’ve been writing about how the character of Superman hasn’t exactly been done justice since the start of this series, because he irrationally blamed Batman for the death of a mutual friend and has been nagging Bats about that way too much. It got to a point that it kept taking me out of the story, diminishing my overall enjoyment of the comic. But in this issue we’re seeing Superman fighting to protect his allies, saving lives and focusing on the task at hand rather than complaining all the time. The switch from how he was written in the previous issues to how he’s written now is a bit sudden, and it also just underlines how unnecessary his portrayal has been up till this point, but I welcome it, and hopefully the creative team will continue to present Superman in a more positive light in the final issue of this run, next month.
Moving on, this is a fun book! It’s filled with action, which is rendered well by Mendonca (pencils/inks) and Angiolini (colors). The art certainly packs a punch: we see superheroes flying, leaping and running across the pages to fight a horde of enemies. All the speed lines, flashy colors and dynamic compositions make for a kinetic display of what’s essentially super-powered warfare. However, as much as I love all of that, I don’t care much for the location that the creative team has chosen for their story. Apokolips is just an empty wasteland, so while the action in the foreground looks impressive, some of the backgrounds just look bland and dull. Sometimes backgrounds are even left out altogether. Because of this there isn’t a strong sense of space in this issue: it’s hard to tell where everyone is in relation to one another, which hinders the sequential flow of fights a little bit. It’s not a deal breaker, but it certainly would have been nice if the artists were able to spend more time on fleshing out the locations and environments, as these add a great deal to the overall atmosphere and aesthetic in any comic book.
As for the story, it feels like it’s kicked into a higher gear, like it’s more focused. This is because the real villain behind it all has revealed himself and it’s time for the tale’s endgame to unfold. Yet, at the same time, there isn’t that much actual story in this particular issue, precisely because most of the focus goes to the fighting. There aren’t many character moments here, and the book is mainly concerned with a few big reveals to build to the cliffhanger. None of this means the book is bad, though; it’s just that those who are looking for a deeper story with more fleshed-out characters won’t really find that here.
- You’re into fight comics!
- You’ve been waiting for Superman to start acting like himself again.
Overall: I enjoyed this issue, even though its main focus is clearly on the fighting and not so much on the characters, the location or the story. There are some intriguing reveals here, and the cliffhanger really makes me want to see how everything’s going to play out in the final issue. If you’ve been collecting this title since the start, I definitely recommend that you pick this up. But, as I’ve said before, if you’re still on the fence, it’s best to wait for trade at this point. This issue won’t make much sense without having read the previous installments.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.