Superman #5 has landed but before we enter the fight lets check out the covers.
Interior artist Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair have created a very powerful and imposing cover, that features the iconic Kryptonian rivals in very quintessential poses. I really like this cover because it was the last thing I was expecting to see. Not only that but it really promises the unthinkable – in the form of a union between Zod and Kal-El, which has the potential to create a new dynamic between the two that could prove fascinating.
The variant cover by Adam Hughes is a homage to Superman #32 from 1945 by cover artist Wayne Boring. This cover is very well done and a very nice treat for Superman fans as a homage especially to a cover so early on is fascinating, especially with the added ‘tongue in cheek’ text featured in the speech bubble that adorn both covers.
Superman #5 opens in a very creative manner as General Zod makes his return to the pages of Superman, and also his debut under the stewardship of creative mastermind Brian Michael Bendis. The reader is exposed to Zod’s machinations and potential end game as part of a vision the General has on his families newly appointed home world of Jakuul. The vision sees a prosperous and united future for all surviving Kryptonians led by General Zod himself descend into chaos that co-insides with the appearance of Rogol Zaar, who devastates all that Zod holds dear. This startling vision of a potential future, and the news of earths disappearance is enough to will General Zod into action.
This whole sequence is a really clever way of introducing General Zod and organically inserting him into the feud between Superman and Rogol Zaar, after all say what you will about Zod he truly believes himself a patriot and nothing would stop him from confronting an active and powerful enemy for Krypton. I really enjoyed how Zod was written in these opening pages, less focused on his hatred for the House of El and more focused on the prosperity of his people. The addition of his family members Lor and Ursa accompanied by the Eradicator raises the stakes and really shows that Zod is fighting for more than just himself.
Zod eventually makes his way to where Earth should be, but is instead greeted by Adam Strange. The General and Adventurer soon discover earth has been shrunken down, and in the most creative of ways are used as a measure of scale as the earth soon reconstitutes its size at an alarming rate. These pages are so clever and a joy to behold as this act was a key component of the Atoms plan from the previous issue. As the reader its really nice to receive this payoff, especially in such a creative and dynamic way, which is most certainly testament to artist Ivan Reis’ skill at creating awe inspiring sequences.
After a strong start focusing pro-dominantly on General Zod, the focus shifts back to Superman and I must say the images and inner monologue featured in this double page spread are chilling. To see Superman reach those peaks of intensity are rare but a great reminder of just how powerful and potentially devastating the character could be. These pages really highlight the incredibly strong morals and ethics Jonathan and Martha Kent instilled in Clark during his formative years in Smallville. In fact this issue goes one better and features a gorgeous shot of Jonathan and Martha that helps centre Clark and gives the him clarity and a new sense of perspective. I love how Clark looks back to the past, specifically to Ma and Pa’ words of wisdom to help him change his approach to current situations.
Just as Superman changes tact and decides to approach Rogal Zaar from a different avenue, General Zod appears in the phantom Zone. He declares war on Rogol Zaar by unleashing an almighty and destructive show of force that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat wanting more. This run of Superman has always done a great job of ending each issue on a cliffhanger and Superman #5 is no exception.
Ivan Reis once again delivers on art duties bringing sizzling intensity, quiet reflection and heart stopping action to every single page. I love how the artist draws Superman, especially when the character is enraged which isn’t often but still feels as though its within the characters persona. It’s unfamiliar as it may seem, but a great reminder that Superman is still susceptible to all the same fears, worries and doubts we all feel as we grow and face new challenges.
On a more aesthetic note Ivan Reis draws Superman’ chest emblem like no other in my opinion, I love how it appears raised off the chest and carries a slightly metallic quality to it. It feels even more iconic and very cinematic which is definitely a plus in my book. Brian Michael Bendis certainly delivered in this issue capturing not only the voice and actions of Superman, but that of General Zod too. The General feels more layered and relatable than usual, certainly in my opinion and greatly reminds me of Geoff Johns interpretation of Thaal Sinestro, another so called villain I found myself slightly rooting for.