Written by, Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by, Ivan Reis
Inks by, Oclaire Albert (pages 7-22) and Joe Prado (pages 1-6, 23-24)
Colors by, Alex Sinclair
Letters by, Josh Reed
This issue picks up with the story after Superman removes the earth from The Phantom Zone with some help from Adam Strange and others. The result leaves Superman in The Phantom Zone to fight Rogol Zaar, Jax-Ur, and his army. Meanwhile, Zod and his wife Ursa discuss the meaning of his recent visions. Ursa questions whether joining with The Family of El, like what happens in Zod’s vision, is wise. Zod embraces a world where the families of Krypton unite to form a new Krypton. Back in the Phantom Zone, Rogol Zaar and his army are too much for Superman who flies away from the battle to regroup. Superman faces a moral dilemma: deny his morals and kill Rogol or stay true to his values and die. He finds strength in a memory he recalls of his mother and father in Kansas telling him to persevere. Superman returns to confront Rogol but before they engage in battle Zod enters the fray to fight Rogol Zaar.
Rogol Zaar has been at the center of 11 issues going back to the Man of Steel 6-issue mini in May and June of this year. While the character has an interesting backstory and his goal to destroy all the descendants of Krypton makes him polarizing, I’m still not convinced that I like the character. However, this story packs an emotional punch due to Superman’s challenge to defeat a superior foe while maintaining his value to never kill. He searches for a solution and finds hope by asking what would Lois do? This was a creative and interesting twist that landed for me. Superman finding strength in Lois cements this idea that he is more human than we are and that he is willing to die for the human race.
The story flows due to the structure and pacing which avoids tropes, such as too many explosions, or, long expositions between opponents. The dialogue lands because it is heartfelt, emotional, and connected to Superman’s history. An example is the conclusion Superman comes to when considering how Lois would attack this problem: by using The Phantom Zone. This revelation of insight leads Superman to find an advantage that Rogol hasn’t considered. Superman’s revelation is not revealed, increasing the intrigue for the next issue.
Overall = 10/10
Superman, historically, has embraced Lois Lane, not just as a plot device but as a meaningful and unreplaceable part of his history. This story restores Lois to her rightful place in the narrative because Superman is shown relying on Lois to overcome the challenge of a lifetime. Bendis is the perfect writer for Superman at this time because he’s willing to explore deep emotional connections between characters, and he is courageous enough to follow through on the story regardless of the outcome. What will happen to Superman by the end of his showdown with Rogol? I’m interested, and I bet, if you’re a fan of Superman, you are too.