REVIEW: Superman #12

Superman #12 is finally here with a superstar team of Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis. The battle rages on in space and I for one have been counting down the days to the arrival of this issue. Especially now that the House of El is back to full strength thanks to the return of Supergirl. With the sides evening up, I can’t wait to see which way the battle will go.

Before we jump back in lets checkout the covers. Interior artist Ivan Reis has created an epic cover that features Superman, Rogol Zaar and Superboy engaged in combat. I love Superman’s pose on this cover. Its unique and full of intent. Superman’s eyes ablaze with heat vision is always a big plus for me. It really gives the sense that Superman is fully running on rage and that is a scary proposition for any opponent.

Superman #12

The variant cover for this issue is a homage to the Fleischer Superman Animation from the 1940’s, and it is beautiful! Created by Adam Hughes, Superman mimics a pose from a famous image captured in the animations opening sequence. This is a very thought provoking piece considering its inspiration. I love it and purchased it straight away. This cover looks even better thanks to DC Comics initiative to enhance cover art by minimising title logos and cover text.

superman 12 2019 cover

Superman #12 opens up with a bang as the reader is well and truly thrust back into the heart of the action. The battle between a reunited House of El and ‘Phantom Zone Brigade’ comprised of Zod, Jax-Ur and the monstrous Rogol Zaar rages on. The opening pages are just epic as artist Ivan Reis utilizes a plethora of dynamic page layouts and splash pages. These really allow the reader to become immersed in this monumental yet personal war with Jor-El at the very heart of it.

Narrated by Superman himself, everything featured in these opening pages feels amplified. Every blow feels heavy and hard hitting. Every explosion feels devastating, yet highly cinematic. And every emotion heartfelt and true. Superman’s dialogue feels very in the moment and honest. It feels like he is talking to himself just as we tend to do to calm themselves. Facial expressions also play a huge part in this encounter. They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – well Superman’s wide range of facial expressions allow the reader to know exactly what he is thinking and how he feels about the situation. Whether it is pride in seeing his cousin Kara live up to her potential, or that feeling of love as he witnesses his son reunited with a faithful companion.

This issue really does a great job of conveying the many facets of this personal feud, especially when Zod and Superman once again come face to face in an exchange that adds even more intriguing complexities to their relationship.

As the issue progresses we find ourselves aboard Jor-El’s ship as The House of El escapes the wraith of their attackers. Straight away the reader is blessed with a gorgeous image of the family in a loving embrace that is just wonderful. The dichotomy between Jor-El’s facial expression and that of Kal’s speaks for itself. This really is a powerful page that creates a very honest and tender moment amid so much perpetual uncertainty.

The following exchange between Jor-El, Kal and Kara is very informative as we begin to learn just who exactly was behind Krypton’s destruction. Kara provides a name after her investigation, which is very intriguing. I just love how the events of the ‘Man of Steel’ mini series, and the events that transpired within the pages of the Supergirl series are all connecting up in this issue. And are actually an integral part of the narrative moving forward. Jor -El now surrounded by the entirety of his living relatives seems more awkward and uncomfortable than ever. His reluctance to divulge what he knows is palpable. To me it is due to a mix of guilt and shame, which really adds to the sense of foreboding I am personally feeling as we get ever closer to the truth. I really like the fact that even though Superman and Jor-El are very much estranged by this point, Clark still shows the elder statesman respect. This is of course a result of Clark’s up bringing . Its a nice constant of Clark’s character I enjoy seeing and never get bored of.

As the issue comes to a close, our heroes split up. Kara and Jon, Clark and Jor-El. Both teams going on missions of great importance. The reader however is treated to a more in depth look at the confrontation from earlier between Zod and Superman. I absolutely adored this encounter. It added so many layers to their relationship, certainly adding to Zod’s personality and characteristics. This really isn’t simply good guy/bad guy, this is so much more than that. Just like the way Zod was portrayed in the movie ‘Man of Steel’, this interpretation of Zod can also be characterized as a ‘patriot’ in my opinion. The way this exchange is presented is just so invent and is a joy to behold.

As Superman #12 closes out, we find ourselves right back where it all began. Jor-El and Clark are home, among the remains of Krypton. Will Superman finally gain the answers he so desperately seeks and just how much of a part did Jor-El play in proceedings? I for one cannot wait to find out.

Reading Superman #12, it really reminded me of the experience I had watching Man of Steel in IMAX. The scope along with awe-inspiring visuals and cinematography featured in that movie reminds me of this very issue. This is very much the comic book version of that style of film making. Ivan Reis’s art really is on another level. The combat which incorporates powers such as flight and heat vision just looks incredible. Reis makes it look easy as he skillfully adds all of these different additions to the combat. I was so looking forward to seeing Ivan Reis take on Kara and I wasn’t disappointed. Supergirl looked incredible. Ivan Reis captured so many different facets of the character in only a few pages. She looked powerful and intense, vulnerable and loving. I cannot wait to see further interactions between her and Jon.

Bendis’s writing in Superman #12 is superb. There is a real sense of honesty and realism to it. The characters talk how their immediate situations dictate. For instance, when Zod and Superman are talking at ‘Super-Speed’, Zod is aware of the time restraints therefore he has to communicate with Superman candidly without posturing.  This is so refreshing and really shows the reader how high the stakes have risen. I for one have never heard Zod talk like this to anyone before especially not Superman. The honesty and even vulnerability is compelling and as I said earlier, adds to his many layers. This character continues to grow under Bendis’s stewardship and I’m fascinated to see where the character goes from here.

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