Superman ’78 #4 continues and picks up right where we left off last time. This issue tells the story of Lex Luthor’s plan to prove he’s more brilliant than Brainiac and Superman’s dilemma of being trapped in the Bottled City of Kandor for the rest of eternity.
But before we get into the issue itself, let’s take a look at the cover. The standard cover is by Brad Walker which shows a menacing Lex Luthor and a concerned Lois lane. The pair are looking down on the frightened residents of Kandor, with Superman among them. This cover has great composition and bright eye catching colors rendered with an expert hand. It’s a great piece which conveys the symbolism of what happens in the plot of the issue.
The variant cover is by Chris Samnee and could honestly be on the cover of any Superman book, it is not confined to the likenesses or era of the Reeve films. It’s a fantastic classic looking cover, depicting Superman lifting heavy wreckage to rescue a trapped woman. Superman is framed perfectly in what little of the sky is visible, and the simple line and color work evoke feelings of the golden and silver ages of comics.
Inside Superman ’78 #4, we are treated to some sights and scenes that are truly unique in the context of this film universe. Such as Superman interacting with his birth planet, and exploring his Earthly heritage in contrast to his Kryptonian one. This is significant in my eyes, as in the Reeve films I feel that after the death of Pa Kent, Superman almost exclusively embraces his Kryptonian heritage in regard to how he identifies himself, and the philosophies and beliefs he champions.
However in this issue, Superman defends his Earthly upbringing, citing the teachings of Pa Kent, and claiming Smallville as the place he’s truly from. This is a nice examination of Superman’s inner struggle being a man of two worlds and it’s something I wish they would have delved into more in those classic films, I love that writer Robert Venditti has touched upon that. We are treated to a flashback of Brainiac hamming home, even further, his casting as David Bowie. We also explore more of his motivations, again, showing us that this is possibly the most altruistic Brainiac yet seen in comics.
Venditti, artist Wilfredo Torres and colourist Jordie Bellaire show us why they were given this series as writer and interior arts. Especially showcasing this in all of Lex Luthor’s scenes, which are absolutely pitch perfect. The writing, the depictions and the “acting” is all spot on. It’s as if Gene Hackman came in and recorded these scenes as reference for the artist himself, these pages are done to perfection.
Superman ’78 #4 continues to deliver nostalgia in terms of writing and artwork which fans of the films crave. Not only that but it allows us to see a new side of Christopher Reeve’s Superman and the struggle with his dual heritage in a way unexplored by the classic films.
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