Superman #8 is here. Just what exactly occurred during Jonathan’ voyage in space?
Before we find out, lets check out the covers for this issue. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair have created a very intense cover as Superman looks on in horror, as an enraged Superboy seemingly destroys an alien army. Now on face value I love this cover, its shocking and you just want to find out what the heck is going on! Jon’ eyes pulsating with heat vision looks intense and intimidating as hell. Superboy looks great in his new suit, however the action depicted on the cover doesn’t entirely reflect the narrative. I’m not always a fan of this, but in this case it will certainly entice casual readers.
Legendary creator Rob Liefeld has created a very intense looking Superman for the variant cover. Now I’m a huge fan of Rob Liefeld, however his Superman depicted on this cover looks rather stiff to me, a little rigid with very sharp lines. The pose itself does however marry up nicely to Superman’ mood in this book. Rob Liefeld is an iconic creator and his stature marries up to that of Superman, which makes this cover all the more memorable.
Superman #8 opens up in the past,during the early days of Jonathan’s trip into space alongside Jor-El. We find the pair aboard Jor-El’ ship having a really honest heart to heart regarding just what exactly it is they hope to achieve in space. I absolutely adored this exchange between Grandson and Grandfather. For large periods of time during his tenure in the DC Universe specifically the Rebirth era, Jor-El has been portrayed as an unhinged megalomaniac with severe tunnel vision, however this exchange showcases a much different side to the character. The reader, along with Jonathan encounter a more relatable, concerned Jor-El for the very first time. Jor-El really lets his guard down, which I found very refreshing as he spoke honestly of his doubts and fears regarding how he views his place in the universe, and questions how a man of science and order could ever possibly comprehend a galaxy in constant flux. This really humanized the character, and for the first time I found myself actually feeling something for this version of Jor-El.
Jonathan’s response to this conversation is equally honest and touching, as he conveys his own confusion, doubts and fears. Specifically regarding his own standing in the universe, while not truly understanding where he fits in. This is compounded by the very relatable fear of not living up to a standard set by a role model – his father. Jonathan’s fear of not living up to that standard must be a crushing weight on his young shoulders. Brandon Peterson’s artwork conveys these feelings perfectly especially when in contrast to Ivan Reis older, more formed take on the character. Touching upon these feelings really worked for me, and added so much depth to this fledgling relationship. The fact that they could be so open with each other really suggests a sense of trust is developing between the pair, and all round growth regarding individual character development.
Back to the present, and inside the Fortress of Solitude where we find Clark aided by Kelex running numerous tests and examinations on Jonathan as Lois looks on. Jonathon really comes into his own during this sequence, putting his parents’ minds at ease while displaying his maturity. This of course is a proud moment for Lois and Clark, I love how this is conveyed in the form of an emotional embrace between Mother and Son. However the realisation of just how much has been lost regarding time, milestones and achievements in Jonathan’s life is way to much for Clark to bear. For Clark, a sense of sorrow rapidly turns into furious rage as the Man of Steel seeks out ‘something to hit’. The unlucky recipient is none other than one of my favourite villains Mongul. The splash page that chronicles this devastating encounter is stunning and brutal all at once. This sequence of events is fun to see, witnessing Superman completely let loose is always an epic visual. However this is another example of a worrying trend that is starting to occur regarding Superman becoming totally enraged and in this instance losing control. It is very refreshing to see the seemingly infallible Superman succumb to his anger. It makes the character become all the more relatable and human. Not to mention a great reminder of just what the Man of Steel is capable of. Brian Micheal Bendis really has found away to emotionally push Superman to his limits which can be much more damaging than physical pain.
Upon Clark’s return to the fortress, Jonathon relays more details about his time away. The reader is transported back to the past again, finding Jonathan and Jor-El at the heart of an intergalactic battle. While sporting an early version of his new suit, Jon recounts how Jor-El constantly attempts to defuse the hostilities between the warring cultures they come across. Jon’s inner monologue really is integral for me, as it shows that Jor-El really is sincere in wanting to change his methods. This is so important because this really is the only reason why Jonathan would venture out into space with him. This led to a really sweet encounter between Jonathan and Green Lanterns’ Arisia and Kilowog. I love Kilowog’s adoration towards Superman as he conveys it towards Jon and later Jor-El. I always enjoy the inclusion of Green Lanterns’ wherever possible as it really adds a cohesive feel to the books specifically set in space.
As Jonathon and Jor-El participate in more heartfelt dialogue, you can sense a real bond is starting to develop which I am really starting to enjoy witnessing. You can feel the pair are becoming close like real family. However this familial bonding is immediately halted by a black hole which pulls in Jor-El’s ship. The issue ends on a real cliffhanger as Jonathon comes face to face with a group who are as evil as they come and every bit as powerful as the Justice League.
This issue feels very much like an interlude issue considering how we left off the conflict with Rogol Zaar. Just what exactly is he up to right now? Well hostilities most certainly seem to be on hiatus. That being said I do feel this is another very strong issue with much of Jonathan’s voyage to the stars being flushed out. Artist Brandon Peterson has done a wonderful job of documenting this period of time. Whilst Ivan Reis covers present day events, including that incredible splash page featuring Mongul and the Man of Steel. Once again, absolutely devastating. Mongul had no chance considering Superman’s emotional state even if he had time to prepare. In this issue we get a really great look at Jon’s new suit and I must say I really love it, it feels fresh yet familiar all at once. The detail of Jor-El ship in the closing pages is so intricate. The scene where it is being sucked into the black hole looks cinematic and just feels catastrophic. This whole sequence feels like a big budget summer blockbuster.
Brian Micheal Bendis has really got to the emotional core of our characters in this issue. Everyone from Superman to Jor-El feels so much more deeper and layered, characters with conflicting emotions that are relatable to each and everyone of us. In my life I’ve felt the way Jonathan is feeling, we all have I dare say. Feeling like you don’t fit in or are unsure of your place in things is common place, and its really nice to see it represented here. I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue. Brian Micheal Bendis has left us on an absolute cliffhanger. Jonathan really is facing insurmountable odds and just where is Jor-El ? Superman #9 can’t come around quick enough.