Superman gets a new power, reveals a big secret, and BATMAN shows up! What more could you ask for in your comic book reading?
Previously in Superman: Ulysses and Superman were the best of friends working to make the world of tomorrow… today! But things are not always as they seem, and Superman decides it is time to bring the people of Earth back to Earth. This doesn’t make Ulysses happy at all.
Hyped earlier this week, Superman gets a new power in this issue. His battle with Ulysses grows to a climax, and in the process of stopping Ulysses at any price (that’s code for “i’m going to kill you”), Superman unleashes his heat vision that goes supernova – or rather a super flare. As a new power, Kal-El has no idea how he is going to control a blast that will incinerate anything within a quarter mile, and that will be a big story element as the series progresses. Thanks to Batman showing up in the issue, readers learn that the super flare uses all of the solar energy Superman has stored in his cells, and after unleashing that power, Superman is essentially powerless – a normal human. For the next issue or so, this could lead to at least one chance to get into trouble, gain some perspective on what it means to have powers, and maybe even a deeper understanding of life in the universe.
While the hype might be focused on the super flare power, there is one brilliant exchange between Superman and the returned citizens of Metropolis that is extremely powerful. Many have complained that recent iterations of the Man of Steel gives little hope or reason to look up to humans, but in this issue, Geoff Johns gives us that moment, and it is so well written, it almost brought a tear to my eye. Warner Bros. would be wise to figure out a way to work this exchange into the upcoming movie.
The hopeful message not only impacts the reader, but it also has positive effect on Jimmy Olsen, who does something really cool with his trust fund billions. This then prompts Clark Kent to reveal something big to his pal, Jimmy Olsen. I’m okay with the reveal; as mentioned earlier, with his powers depleted, there are many ways Geoff Johns can pack out if need be.
I’m very conflicted over the art.
I know many people love John Romita, Jr.’s art style, and for much of the issue the art works for me. Batman looks good, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane look great, and the city of Metropolis is expertly rendered. The layouts are fantastic, and John Romita, Jr. knows how to stage and pose characters in a panel that bring a cinematic feel to the issue. But there are many times when faces look like they are made of putty. Granted, Superman is taking quite a beating, but without bruising or blood on the face, it looks really odd and honestly, a bit of a turn off for me.
Superman also gets a costume change in this issue thanks in part to the old costume getting torched. We discussed the changes on the most recent Major Spoilers Podcast, and the bottom line is the changes are welcome, the changes are moving us slowly back to the original version, and we still wish there was some kind of breakup (i.e. underpants on the outside).
BOTTOM LINE: A BIG ISSUE
I don’t read Superman that often, but when I do, I’m glad it is during a big event. Geoff Johns tells a very solid story that has everything a Superman tale should have; a big fight scene, a motivational moment, Clark hanging with friends, lots of empathy, and a big reveal. Though I didn’t read the issues leading up to this book, the story felt like a nice, well thought out conclusion to the arc. I’m split on the art. I think you’ll either going to love it or hate it, but the overall structure, layout and design is spot on. Superman #38 is definitely a big moment in the New 52, and is worth picking up.