Superman #22 continues directly on from where the previous issue left off. Warworld is on a collision course with Earth. All that stands between Earth and total conquest at the hands of Mongul is the Man of Steel. This epic encounter between Mongul and Superman has raged throughout the last couple of issues and has really intensified with the turn of every page. The stakes really couldn’t be any higher.
This is very much represented on the main cover created by artist Ivan Reis, as Mongul appears to hold the fate of the Earth in his clutches. I love how Mongul takes up most of the space on this cover. Mongul is a larger than life villain and seeing him represented in such an over the top manner is perfect. Mongul looks totally maniacal. The detail in his face and especially hands is remarkable. You can feel every bone crack and sinew tighten as The Earth is placed firmly within Mongul’s cross-hairs. Alex Sinclair’s colours and inking by Joe Prado really make this cover feel special as other-worldly energies manifest and radiate out into the ether.
The variant cover is by none other than Bryan Hitch, who has provided numerous variants for this series. This is what Superman is all about, despite the surroundings he is still so patient to those who need it. This action packed piece is awesome, and the use of colours are incredibly realistic, especially when it comes to the flames. In each of the variants that Bryan Hitch has provided us with, he has also provided us with a perfect embodiment of Superman.
Superman #22 sees two story threads run simultaneously throughout the issue. One is the aforementioned feud between Superman and Mongul reaching its epic conclusion, whilst the other sees Lois debriefed by Agent Cameron Chase regarding her family’s newly designated status quo.
Superman’s battle with Mongul reaches new heights of devastation and destruction as Warworld is brought into the mix. Warworld is a planet sized battle station that has been utilized by the Mongul for almost the entirety of it’s existence. It made it’s first appearance within the pages of DC Comics Presents #27 from 1980 created by Len Wein and Jim Starlin.
This encounter between two equally opposed foes has been breathtaking from the word go. The events taking place in this issue are certainly no exception. The acts of power and physical brutality chronicled are on another level. I can’t remember the last time either of these two combatants have let loose like this. Superman and Mongul are well and truly unchained and I love to see it.
In this issue it’s all about the incredible way artist Kevin Maguire and colourist Alex Sinclair compliment each others work. Our characters’ faces are etched with emotion, every grimace, every look of anguish and determination is palpable. Our combatants bodies contort with every blow they absorb. This has truly been a battle of attrition. In my opinion, this knock-down, drag-out fight is on the same level as Superman’s historic fight with Doomsday. Yes, it’s that good.
The destruction left in our combatants wake is breathtaking. This issue looks and feels like a Hollywood blockbuster. Alex Sinclair’s colours enhance the tone of every page. From the coldness of space to the searing heat of an explosion, the readers senses are immersed in rich colour that engulfs every panel.
As I eluded to earlier, this issue is made up of not only the confrontation between Superman and Mongul, but with a very fascinating exchange between Lois Lane and Agent Cameron Chase. This exchange really is enjoyable as these two alpha females make for perfect sparring partners. Chase has the upmost respect for Lois and it really shows. The conversation had between these two really is intricate as it evolves from rather stand-offish to down right blunt considering the implications derived from Superman’s recent revelation.
In certain quarters, Superman is often compared to that of a god. This is certainly a valid comparison. However Superman’s internal monologue becomes increasingly human the more other-worldly the situation he faces. Facets such as humor, fear and mercy all show up in his internal monologue. This is all thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ nuanced dialogue and storytelling. I feel that Bendis really understands these characters and honors their legacy. This is certainly evident when Chase and Lois talk. The resolution of their discussion makes perfect sense to me.
Superman #22 is a fantastic read and all round feast for the senses. Thanks to the way this issue is structured, Superman #22 is weighted really well and flows effortlessly between the action and quiet moments.
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