Superman 15 is the sixth issue in the H’el on Earth Superman family crossover. On my first impressions video, I said that it’s getting harder to care about this crossover as it progresses. This issue was more enjoyable on a second reading, but it’s still not that good. We’re six issues into the crossover and we still have no idea where H’el gained his extra powers. That said, this issue’s ending has given me some hope for the next chapter … until I remember who’s writing Superboy.
This issue is all about Superman and Superboy meeting Lex Luthor, who is currently scarred and locked up in a prison of his own making. Scott Lobdell wisely doesn’t reveal much about how Lex Luthor was scarred as it could make for an interesting story. The dialogue between Superman and Superboy as they walk through the “inescapable” prison is entertaining enough to hold this issue together. Lex Luthor’s intimidating dialogue, even as he’s locked up and shackled, shows what an awesome villain he can be. The end of the issue teases what could be an great fight scene coming up in the next two issues. This is the most enjoyable issue in the “Superman” series that I’ve read so far.
That’s not to say there aren’t glaring problems with this comic. While the dialogue can be entertaining, Superman feels like a jerk in this comic – he’s unrecognizable as the man of steel. The worst jerk moment was when Superman acted snobby about unsupervised super humans when referring to the Teen Titans. Wasn’t he an unsupervised superhero for a while in the new 52?
The overly wordy conversations do little to advance the plot – all we know is that H’el’s plan could potentially destroy our solar system. There isn’t much tension related to the plot either, since this solar threat hasn’t been shown until now and Luthor’s exposition is the only direct evidence of anything that we’ve seen so far. The overly wordy nature of the exposition doesn’t help either. There are no mentions of Supergirl anywhere, even though she’s supposed to be a major character in this crossover. These problems hold back an otherwise decent Superman comic.
The art isn’t all that special either. While it’s appealing to the eye at first glance, there are barely any details anywhere. More than half of the panels have blank backgrounds, and even those that do are light on fine details. Some of the facial expressions are awkward looking, especially when Superman and Superboy are talking with Lex Luthor.
While this issue was better on a second reading, it’s still not good. The overly wordy dialogue seriously holds this issue back, as does Superman’s snobby behavior. The fact that this issue completely ignores Supergirl’s involvement with this crossover certainly doesn’t help. The art is mediocre at best, even if it’s appealing at first. The ending promises a good action scene in the next issue, but considering Superboy 16 (written by Tom DeFalco; I haven’t enjoyed any of his writing so far) is next, I’m not expecting much. Unless you’ve been enjoying H’el on Earth so far, this issue is not worth recommending. I’m probably going to drop this crossover and start reading Supergirl again once it’s over.