Superman #11

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Ivan Reis
Inks by Oclair Albert and Joe Prado
Colored by Gabe Eltaeb and Alex Sinclair

Previously in Superman, Jonathan continues the story of his escape from the Crime Syndicate and eventual rescue from Jor-El. Jon explains that Jor-El was at least 10 years older and that he’d spent the past decade searching for Jon. Jor-El explained to Jon that it was his inter-dimensional travel through the wormhole that caused them to age ten years while the equivalent time on earth was 22 days. Jor-El’s ship is attacked by Rogol Zaar and his supporters as Jon is transported back to earth by Jor-El. This issue begins, Rogol Zaar motivates Zod to tell him how to escape The Phantom Zone. Meanwhile, Superman and Jonathan arrive to find Jor-El’s ship under attack by three separate alien species simultaneously. The encounter is interrupted by the return of Rogol Zaar who attacks Superman.  

Rogol Zaar represents Bendis’ attempt to reshape an important part of Superman’s origin story: How did Superman’s home planet of Krypton die? Readers who don’t like this re-imagining won’t like this book. However, Bendis also pulls in parts of DC comic history in this story with the three alien races attacking Jor-El. The Thanagarian Black Order Squad are the warrior-winged race that Hawkman and Hawkgirl come from. The Trillium Collective is a strange alien race who were introduced by Jeff Lemire in an 8-issue maxi series. And The Khunds are an extremist group who Superman confronts sternly. This part of the story gives readers something interesting to focus on to take their minds off Rogol Zaar.

The art remains strong in this book. There are several large panel spreads picturing Rogol Zaar and Superman’s battle that are grand and epic in scope and well-rendered. The size and power advantage of Rogol Zaar over Superman is stunning when captured visually. And the sight of Jonathan witnessing Superman struggle is heartbreaking. I continue to struggle with the visual aesthetic of Jor-El who looks like an old man pretending to be a mid-twenties hipster with a Mohawk-type haircut, spread to the side. It cheapens the fact that Jor-El is Superman’s father.

Overall = 9/10

Final Impressions

This story begins to pull together the story threads initiated issues ago with the appearance of Jor-El, then Rogol Zaar, Jonathan’s disappearance and return. Good stories are built on good premise; however, it’s the ending that people will remember. Can Bendis stick the landing? We’ll see. I recommend this book for fans of Superman and for its part in the weighty conclusion of these complex story threads.