With Superman #9 leaving its mark on me, I couldn’t wait for issue #10 to arrive. I am so invested in Jonathan’s story, willing him on in the face of insurmountable odds at every turn. The Superman title has long now been one of my most anticipated books and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
With that being said, before we dive into the issue lets check out the covers. The standard cover for this issue is by Ivan Reis and is just phenomenal. What could be more epic than an enraged Superman with eyes pulsating with heat vision locked in combat. This is very much my kind of cover and I must say it popped straight off the shelf. It is very impactful but like so many covers these days doesn’t actually convey what features in the interior. I guess this is a trend that I will need to get used to, but with that said the cover is still EPIC.
The variant cover by Adam Hughes has a very timeless look to it. It really reminds me of the Fleischer cartoon series. I love the addition of the locomotive in the back ground. This cover is just lovely. It made me feel very nostalgic and it reminded me of a cartoon series very dear to my heart and for that I can’t thank Hughes enough. It is beautiful!
In recent years the Superman series has been firing on all cylinders certainly during the Tomasi and Gleason run, and especially since Brian Micheal Bendis took over the helm. The Eisner award winning writer has wasted little time in raising the stakes like never before. Sure we’ve seen Superman in peril on more than one occasion in the past, Metropolis and Lois too. But never have we seen Superman’s son at the heart of the danger, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Jonathan has truly faced insurmountable odds and stared true evil in the eye. The audience has been completely immersed into a rich tapestry with family at the heart that has brought about every emotion. This can certainly be said of issue #9 and truth be told I’m still reeling from that very issue and it’s thanks to this that I found myself literally counting down the days to the release of Superman #10.
This issue opens up exactly where we left off as Jonathan continues his account of his time on Earth-3, where he is attempting to escape the evil grasp of Superwoman, the psychotic doppelganger of Lois Lane. This intense encounter is aggressive and brutal. Superwoman is every bit as deranged and dangerous as Ultraman, and she really utilizes every one of her powers to attack Jonathan. The fact that we are unaware of her intentions for Jonathan is terrifying, considering the anguish he faced while imprisoned by Ultraman. The unbridled hatred and anger truly radiates off of this character as she is drawn with such intensity by artist Brandon Peterson. You can feel every devastating blow and attack.
With Superwoman’s eyes pulsating with heat vision and a moody atmosphere created with superb colouring by industry legend Alex Sinclair. These pages feel ripped straight from a horror comic. This is compounded by the fact that the individual panels are presented from Jonathan’s point of view. Seeing Jon hold his hands out before him is a sobering reminder that he is only a child facing off against a being of intense evil wearing his mothers face. While reading, it really translates to the audience that this is a harrowing ordeal for Jonathan. His inner monologue is the only thing keeping him focused.
This sequence of events also reintroduces Jor-El in a very triumphant fashion. In wrestling terminology this return would have received an instant pop from the crowd. This timely intervention really worked for me, and was an extremely nice payoff regarding the relationship building these two benefited from when they were last together. They really were starting to feel like family. This wasn’t quite the end scene from the movie Taken but hopefully you get where I’m going.
With Jonathan out of danger and aboard his grandfathers ship, the audience along with Jonathan receives answers to all our questions. Especially regarding Jonathan, his aging, how he came to be on Earth-3 and what caused it. The exchange between these long lost relatives is highly charged, very emotional and very distressing. Certainly for Jor-El who also describes his actions and whereabouts during this time. You really believe this man has gone to every length to find his missing grandson. The heartbreak and pain radiates off of the character as his dialogue and movements convey an assortment of highly amplified emotions. The word frantic perhaps best illustrates Jor-El’s mindset and that is exactly how a person in that situation should and would behave. I love how during this exchange Jor-El bequeaths Jonathan with his new costume. Its presented in this very regal box emblazoned with the House of El insignia. It very much feels as though Jor-El is acknowledging Jonathan’s bravery and courage. That this costume is the reward to a rite of passage completed.
The peace however is abruptly halted as a face from the not to distant past reemerges and reminds us all the true villain within this epic saga. These scenes are swift and brutal, again a perfect reminder of what is out there waiting for us now that these issues chronicling Jon’s time in space appear to be at an end. As the issue comes to a close so to does Jonathan’s account of his time in space including his return. Lois and Clark really rather wonderfully convey how proud they are of Jonathan even in the face of the pain and anguish they feel at the thought of all the time lost with their son. These are beautifully played out moments with pride rightfully taking center stage. Jonathan ventures out into space once more this time accompanied by his father to clean up the mess left by Jor-El, however what they encounter could very well prove to be more than they can handle.
This issue was absolutely fantastic and really moved the overall story forward nicely thanks to lots of questions being answered. This really helped as it closed the door on this chapter of Jon’s life, so that he can move on. I loved how family seemed to be at the core of this issue, and the lengths our characters would go to see their loved ones again. It was so nice seeing this theme be represented by Jor-El’s actions. This is a character who’s intentions have been really shrouded in mystery of late, but seeing that bond develop with Jon has been very enjoyable, and that paying off in the form of his behavior in this issue was a delight. This is definitely a man who cares even if he conveys his emotions poorly.
The visuals in this issue are fantastic as Ivan Reis shares art duties with Brandon Peterson. The detail in Brandon Peterson’s work is staggering. The machines and technology aboard Jor-El’s ship are so intricately designed and full of detail that just add so much depth. Detail in the environment aren’t the only thing that the artist excels at, but in action and facial expressions too. Every character conveys their emotions through body language and facial expressions to the point where dialogue isn’t needed. What the characters feel radiate off of them. This is certainly the case with Superwoman. Her hate and anger poured off of her in waves, it was palpable.
Another strength of Brandon Peterson’s has to be destruction. Battles in space with destruction and debris and the hull of a ship being breached are science fiction main stays, visuals that I have loved my whole life. Well this issue features those same sensibilities, and I loved every page. The artist has done such a wonderful job of including these elements with extreme detail. Jon getting dragged out of the ship into the void of space looked epic. It was as if you could actually feel it happening. Ivan Reis also delivered impeccable art in this issue. Illustrating more thoughtful moments with Clark, Lois and Jonathan only before delivering a science fiction masterpiece of his own in the form of an ‘intergalactic war’ double page spread that is just absolutely stunning. It’s just so cinematic.
If this is what is awaiting us in Superman #11 well, I guess Ill be counting down the days all over again.