This story arc just keeps getting crazier and crazier, in all the right ways. What started off as a fun comic where Batman and Robin visited Superman’s family is now an intense, dark mystery where the entire town near the Kent hobby farm seems to be in on what’s going on. Even now it’s not entirely clear what’s happening, but there are some major reveals toward the end of this issue, at least with whoever is leading the charge. That I will not spoil, but he is a pre-existing character.
Co-written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, this comic begins with Lois Lane confronting their friendly neighbor, who happens to have telekinetic powers and is on the mysterious plot. Meanwhile, Superman is underground, having discovered where all the missing superheroes are. Of course there’s a difference between finding them and figuring out how to rescue them. Meanwhile, Jon Kent strapped to a chair and forced to watch everything. This is an intense issue, both from an action and emotional standpoint. It’s hard to say too much more without spoiling this issue, but there’s one particular moment with Lois Lane that’s particularly rough. It’s effective, but I’m still not sure how to feel about it on a personal level.
As great as the writing is, the art isn’t quite as good. For the most part, Doug Mahnke’s art is brilliant. Everything is well-detailed, there’s good use of motion blurs, and when the telekinesis is unleashed, there are a lot of rocks flying around, each of them individually detailed. Facial expressions also do a great job at conveying emotions, whether it’s Jon’s tears while he’s watching the events above, Clark’s focused look when he hears a huge battle in the distance or the look of complete agony in Lois Lane’s eyes in one particular moment. That said, there are several pages where fill-in artists take over for a bit and there’s a noticeable drop in quality. There’s less detail and the colouring suddenly looks flat. Speaking of the colouring, it’s handled by both Wil Quintana and Hi-Fi. In the better pages, everything is colourful despite the overall dark tone, with brilliant shading and use of glows and shadows.
For the most part this comic is fantastic. The only thing that stops this from tying Star Wars 31 as my favourite comic of the week is the noticeable dip in the art quality for a couple pages. There seems to be a lot of fill-in art in the comics I read this week, with Red Sonja 5 being the only one that isn’t harmed by it in the slightest. In that case it’s not a change in quality – it’s just a slightly different feel. Anyway, this is still a good comic. Going into this family-focused Superman series, I had no idea it would get this intense or dark, but it works all the better because of the strong focus on Superman’s family in the earlier issues. This is an easy recommendation for Superman fans.