REVIEW: Superman #17

Superman #17 is ere and this issue has had me extremely intrigued ever since I heard that Superman was going to spill the beans on his alter ego. It’s safe to say that I have been eagerly awaiting since that moment.

We’ve all heard the rumors, and the text on this cover certainly confirms those rumblings. Thanks to this cover it looks like we are most certainly on our way to another Earth shattering change in the life of the Man Of Steel. Artist extraordinaire Ivan Reis has created a very memorable cover as Superman’s emblem takes centre stage as he looks over his shoulder. I love this cover as it really works as a ‘new beginning’ kind of cover. Very memorable and an instant classic.

superman 17 cover
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The variant cover for this issue is created by the legendary Adam Hughes and features DC’ Trinity as they take flight. I absolutely adore the contrast between the red skies and lightening that creates the darkness from which Batman emanates. The background subtly evolves into the blue skies from which Superman takes flight. This is a very fluid cover and with natural progression taking centre stage. Light always follows the darkness.

superman 17 variant
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

Superman #17 is all about truth in its many guises, be it the truth between loved ones and the dynamics of their relationship, or the truth yet to be unearthed that could very well shine a light on a potential new threat. Even the greatest truth of all, that of who we are in the face of the unknown is analysed in this very issue.

The issue opens up with a very lighthearted exchange as Superman breaks up an intergalactic feud in the making. This is a perfect opening for me as it shows that the peace brokered during the ending of the unity saga is still very much the new status quo of the galaxy. The humor in these scenes is also phenomenal.

Proceedings become decidedly deeper as Lois and Clark take part in a heart to heart that surrounds the mysterious gift delivered to Lois by Lex Luthor. This exchange is an intriguing analysis of Lois and Clark’s psych now that their lives have been irrevocably changed due to the recent loss of loved ones, as well as Jonathan leaving home for the 31st century. Lois really handles Clark and his grieving beautifully with warmth and tender care. The placement of Lois’s hands on Clark’s face really speaks volumes.

Artist Kevin Maguire’s facial expressions and body language really encapsulate where the characters are at emotionally. Seeing Clark so low is a real shock to the system. Always the beacon of hope, Clark being effected by the changes occurring around him is a great reminder of just how human he really is. Clark coming to terms with the truth behind his new status quo is heartwarming.  Lois’s strength and ability to ‘plow on’ in the face of loss is very much evident during this exchange. Lois really does have strength enough for the both of them.

As the issue progresses, a different kind of truth is revealed. The truth behind just who exactly caused the transference of the Earth into the Phantom Zone, along with the disappearance of Longtime fan favourite character Conner Kent (see the pages of Young Justice for that adventure). This whole sequence is beautifully captured using epic panoramic panels while presented to the reader in the form of an article written in the Daily Planet by ace reporter Clark Kent. Finding out just who exactly created much of the anarchy depicted in the first arc of this series is a huge payoff.

This is a perfect explanation and really highlights how some characters weaponize secrecy and withdrawal of the truth to gain an advantage. This is a fascinating take on villainy and its methods as I’m sure these characters would very much argue that they are indeed the heroes of the piece.

As the issue comes to a close, Superman reaches out to Kara regarding a decision he has come to that will alter not only his life but that of those around him. The skillful mix of art and storytelling in this issue very much informs the reader of what this decision could be even though it is not discussed further. Think reading between the lines. That is exactly the kind of seed writer Brian Bendis plants during the earliest of exchanges in this issue and it certainly pays off towards the end. The addition of Zod in this issue is another clever way of showing that past events that have occurred in this series are to play a prominent role in the future and that they aren’t to be forgotten.          

This issue feels very much like a prelude to something much bigger, that’s not to say that this isn’t an issue of extreme importance. I love the way that Bendis sets the stage for where our beloved characters are at emotionally before the status quo seemingly changes further. I really understand where Clark and Lois are as a couple considering the changes that have touched their lives. These changes really do add a sense of realism that makes them all the more relatable to the reader.

Artist Kevin Maguire is a master at facial expressions especially conveying emotion through the eyes. I love how each characters eyes tell a story. Every emotion is conveyed through the eyes of our beloved characters in this issue, from sorrow to wonder. Zod in particular has some very memorable moments all due to the expressions of his face.

Haven’t got your copies yet? You can pick up the standard cover by Ivan Reis here (UK), or here (US). Prefer the variant by Adam Hughes? You can pick that up here.

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