The wait is over! What has the Crime Syndicate got planned for Superboy? Before we find out, lets check out the covers to Superman #9.
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair have really captured the pack mentality of The Syndicate as they menacingly surround Jon and Jor-El. Seeing The Crime Syndicates powers in subtle fashion also adds to the intimidation levels. The glow of Superwoman’s barbed wire Lasso is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The inclusion of Jor-El is a little misleading though as he doesn’t feature in the book at all, nor does that particular iteration of Superboy.
Legendary creator Rob Liefeld has created a very stoic looking Superman for the variant cover. There isn’t really any context behind this cover, Superman is just kind of there, however I do think this would look great as a pinup piece.
After last months cliffhanger issue, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Superman #9 and this issue really didn’t disappoint and by that I mean you feel every emotion. From heartbreak to anger, this issue takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Even after reading this issue I found that my mind was wandering back to what it had just encountered.
For starters I will say this, Superman #9 is perhaps one of the darkest issues of Superman I’ve ever read. I’ve read a lot of Superman comics over the years and I can’t remember an issue that has left me feeling the way this issue has. The events that occur are harrowing to say the least, and stay with you for a good while after reading.
This issue actually opens up very bright and optimistically as Clark has a vision reminiscent to that of General Zod from #5. When Zod has a vision of a united new Krypton with peace between the House of El and Zod at the heart of it. Clark’s vision however takes that theme of peace and broadens it to encompass the whole of the DC Universe as a plethora of heroes and familiar faces, accompanied by some new gather to celebrate ‘World Peace Day’. These pages are very reminiscent of those that would feature within DC Comics’ ‘Elseworld’ titles. This feeling was encapsulated with the inclusion of Jimmy Olsen who appears to be joined by his wife and child in the audience, while the House of El sports an unfamiliar face who I believe maybe a potential daughter to Lois and Clark and sister to Jonathan.
Seeing Clark have a dream so similar to Zod was a really nice touch. For me it’s important to note that Zod doesn’t see himself as the villain. He sees himself as a patriot who has Krypton’s best interests at heart the same as Kal-El. To see Zod halting hostilities with the House of El in favour of peace is inspiring to say the least.
I just love seeing these alternate timelines and potential futures. Picking out all the little details, discovering new variations on costumes and figuring out just who could be wearing them is so intriguing to me and opens up so many possibilities. While there are so many different DC characters inhabiting this page, I can’t help but be drawn to the appearance of Shazam – a favourite character of mine firmly back in the fold after a lengthy absence.
As Clark’s vision comes to an abrupt halt, the issue moves on as we momentarily find ourselves back in the present, and at the fortress of solitude where Jonathan continues to explain the events of his trip into space specifically his encounter with the Crime Syndicate on Earth – 3. From here on out things get very grim for Jonathan. He recollects how Ultraman, the mirror image of his father brutally snatched him from the grasps of the evil Crime Syndicate and subjected him to physical and mental anguish. The artwork and writing combined made this sequence of events so incredibly harrowing. Jonathon really goes through a horrific ordeal that made it really difficult for me to get through. For all intents and purposes, Jonathan is still a child and is being held prisoner by an adult. On more than one occasion it crossed my mind that this maybe going to far for me, but then that is what Ultraman is all about. The sheer horror on Jonathan’s face during the physical encounters really emphasized that feeling. Reading this issue my blood was boiling, I was seething. I think by this point I was pacing up and down the hallway while reading getting more and more irate by what was occurring. My heart was breaking for Jonathan, I wanted him out and safe and away from his sadistic jailer as soon as possible. As far as I was concerned the issue done its job, I hated the Crime Syndicate, and specifically Ultraman more than ever.
Clark is desperate to find out how long Jonathan was held captive for. I’ve definitely noticed a theme developing within Brian Micheal Bendis’s writing of Superman. On more than one occasion Superman has been on the verge of losing complete control. The character at least once during this run has described how easy it would be if he truly let go. Well, once again those feelings were coming to the surface as Jonathan’s recollections really hit home. Does this arc end with Superman losing it and unleashing his full power? If so I can guess who it will be leveled at.
Back in the past as Jonathan’s last flickers of power fade, the son of Superman makes his final attempt at an escape. What he discovers is an even harsher reality with an even familiar face. As I said, this issue is harrowing and you just feel every emotion. Its very rare that I read a book in these circumstances but pacing up and down seemed to go hand in hand with how I was feeling. Making the reader feel this way has to be a win in the publishers eyes. I’ll certainly be talking about this issue for weeks to come.
Artist Ivan Reis has done a fantastic job of capturing the present day scenes specifically the emotions on the faces of Lois and Clark as they learned the true extent of Jonathan’ trials in space. However the true star of this issue has to be artist Brandon Peterson who captured the horror in Jonathan’s facial expressions almost too well for me. This issue definitely pushed the limits. When thinking back on this issue, can I say I enjoyed it? That’s a tough one to answer. Did I enjoy the contents? Not always. It was a very difficult read with harrowing subject matter. Did I feel every emotion there is and will it stay with me and continually be something I revisit be it a reread or in conversation? Yes on all three counts. Without a doubt Superman #9 left its mark and will be hard to forget.
This maybe one of Brian Micheal Bendis’s most memorable issues of Superman to date. I’m not going to forget it in a hurry that’s for sure. And you know what? Jonathan’s trials have only just begun as issue #10 looks to be just has harsh on Superboy as #9 was !