The Man of Steel #6

Written by, Brian Michael Bendis
Art by, Jason Fabok
Colors by, Alex Sinclair
Letters by, Josh Reed

This is the final issue of a 6-part mini in which writer Brian Michael Bendis has introduced a new villain, Rogol Zaar, who has come to earth to cleanse the galaxy of all Kryptonians. Lois Lane and Jonathan are missing with no explanation for their disappearance. And, an arsonist has set a series of fires in Metropolis, which Deputy Fire Chief Melody Moore investigates.

This issue begins with an exchange that occurred in the recent past between Jor-El and the Clark family and then transitions to Superman’s present conflict with Rogol. I was pleasantly surprised that Jor-El’s reappearance had such an emotional payoff. He demands to take Jonathan with him to teach him and to help him reach his full potential as a result of Superman’s absence as a father. Bendis does an effective job of tracking the motives of each character through accurate emotional responses. For example, Clark’s defensiveness towards Jor-El only reinforces Jor-El’s assertion. The effectiveness of the storytelling is noteworthy especially in the scenes where Clark is shown with angry eyes looking through Jor-El as events unfold. The honest dialogue between Jor-El and Clark pays off as the reader can feel Clark’s loss of control and helplessness.

In addition, Bendis further develops the plot with behavioral choices by Lois, which increases the emotional weight of the conflict. For example, Lois concedes and agrees to go with Jor-El and Jonathan. The artist shows Clark sitting on the floor holding one of Jonathan’s stuffed animals after his family left, which says it all. Jason Fabok’s art shows the sequence between The Kent family and Jor-El with heart-wrenching detail showing facial expressions that fit the emotional tone in each panel. In the final scene, Lois and Jon embrace Clark, he doesn’t embrace back.  

Finally, in the present, the battle with Rogol is resolved with beautifully drawn scenes of Rogol’s earth-buster machine, outer space, and hulking pictures of Rogol towering over Superman. Bendis does a masterful job capturing the conflict in Superman whilst he faces one of his greatest threats. Superman is vengeful yet powerless to stop Rogol, which has parallels to the story that unfolded with Jor-El and his family. Superman receives aid from Supergirl, which reveals his ego-investment. The entertainment value for me increased because of Kara’s contributions to the conflict, and Superman’s response to needing her help. The final pages of the book reveal Kara’s future pursuits: what really happened to Krypton? There’s a big reveal at the end of the book, which introduces a greater mystery about the origin of the fires in Metropolis.

Overall = 9.5/10

Final Impressions

As soon as I heard that Bendis would write a Superman book, I knew that someone would die, go missing or change drastically. I never imagined that my view of Superman would change because I would be made aware of his weakness. It’s how Bendis tells the story that kept me engaged: I believe what I’ve learned about the hero. Superman’s lifestyle, fighting bad guys and ignoring his family has consequences. In addition, Superman’s departure from Krypton at a young age means that he didn’t learn about his home planet or his family’s traditions. It makes sense that Jor-El would be the one to teach Jonathan. I highly recommend this book to fans of Superman and DC.

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