Superman #4

Written by, Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by, Ivan Reis
Inks by, Joe Prado & Adam Hughes
Colors by, Alex Sinclair
Letters by, Josh Reid

The story starts, Superman’s top priority is to remove the earth from The Phantom Zone where it was accidentally jettisoned by Star Labs scientists previously. To succeed he must fight  Rogol Zaar who is Superman’s equal in every way. Superman pulls no punches, as he fights this ruthless foe who has a team of supporters, which includes Jax-Ur, who destroyed Krypton’s moon leading to his being sentenced to The Phantom Zone by Kryptonians years ago. The story is hard-hitting with huge explosions and the implication of a final outcome that will shock everybody! Will Rogol and his army be too much for Kal-El? Could Superman lose? If so, what happens to the earth?

The writer utilizes interesting storytelling techniques to flush out the connections in the Kal-El family. For example, a flashback sequence shows a father-son lesson between Clark and Jonathan, which happens while Superman is unconscious in the midst of his fight with Rogol.  The themes presented are powerful ones. The Superman family has sacrificed immensely to protect the earth, including enduring persecution by the people of earth, despite Superman’s good intentions. The use of a father-son moment to flush out the importance of Superman to planet earth was brilliant on the part of Bendis.

The entertainment value is increased by humor sandwiched in between these intense battle sequences. For example, Superman’s conversation with Jonathan about his annoyance with Batman, how stubborn and misguided he’s been is a microcosm of the human race. Superman concludes about Batman something that’s also true of the human race: “He surprises me with the amazing things he does.” The dialogue is heartfelt and authentic tapping into the reasons why we love Superman: He loves people.

The author keeps the story moving, not allowing things to get bogged down or fall into grandstanding or tropes by the protagonist or antagonist. Superman uses The Justice League Psychic Connection to communicate with The Atom back in Star Labs. The Flash arrives to help The Atom prepare a way to transport the earth out of The Phantom Zone. This all occurs while Superman fights Rogol, which increases the suspense and made me feel invested in the story. Superman pulls Rogol off earth while the rest of the team uses The Phantom Zone Projector to pull earth out of The Phantom Zone leaving Superman and Rogol alone to fight!

Overall = 9.5

This is an immensely entertaining and heartfelt issue. Bendis tells a story that is uncluttered, values-driven, and action-packed. The final panel sets up compelling questions: Did the team successfully pull the earth from The Phantom Zone and will Superman defeat Rogol Zaar? I highly recommend that fans get on board with this story.

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