So my total pull list for the week is a grand total of 1 comic. Marvel really needs to figure out a regular schedule instead of haphazardly throwing their comics around throughout the month, because next week is looking pretty big for me. So of course there’s no point in a first impression’s post when I’m only reading one comic. Instead, I already have two posts about Disney Animated Features ready to go for later today, and then I can get to work on the next one. Also on the bright side, I finally finished my Cable collection this past week. I’m talking specifically about Cable’s solo series that started in the 90’s – I now own all 108 issues of the series, including the -1 issue that released in the middle of it.
Anyway, let’s talk about Superman 24.
Superman 24, co-written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (Gleason also handles some of the art), reveals a lot about what’s going on. I won’t spoil everything, but in short, the town that Clark Kent and his family chose to live in is occupied by a number of alien refugees of sorts. Although Kathy (who’s befriended Jon Kent) and her grandfather seem to be sympathetic to Superman, many of the other occupants are a bit more hostile. They don’t hate Superman by any means, but they don’t respect his merciful ways. Like their leader who was revealed in the last issue, they believe in more extreme methods of justice. They’re trying to break Superman so that he resorts to more lethal means, and they intend to nurture Jon Kent into a more extreme form of Superman whether they succeed with Clark or not.
This issue delves into the psychological and moralistic debate between Superman and his foe, who turns out to be a very powerful person himself. This guy sees himself as a real hero, and that makes him a very compelling villain. The family drama gets intense, whether it’s Clark and Lois speaking in the hospital room (after Lois’s serious injury in the previous issue), or Superman and Superboy finally meeting again after several issues where Jon’s been missing. Superman’s sheer resistance to killing is part of what makes him such a special superhero. However at the same time, the villain isn’t entirely wrong. It’s just that his methods end up hurting more innocent people than they help.
The art is drawn by both Doug Mahnke and Gleason. I can’t really tell who is who, but it’s not hard to figure out when the artist shift happened. In the previous issue, the art took a noticeable dive when the backup team came in, but this time round, it’s just a slight shift in style and it’s all good art. The first half of the comic is clean and smooth, as it shows a brief flashback at the alien refugees being rescued by the villain. There’s a wide variety of aliens on the ship, and a weird battle going on in the background including multiple giant portals and environmental destruction. Facial expressions do a great job at expressing emotion, whether it’s Kat’s sorrow, Lois Lane’s concern or Superman’s sheer determination when he sets out to find Jon. When the art switches to the other artist, the style is a bit more detailed and a touch gritty, which matches the tone of this comic very well. The grass is well detailed, and even the veins in Superman’s neck are clearly visible. There’s also great use of ashes floating in the air from a nearby burning tree. Wil Quintana, John Kalisz and Hi-Fi share colouring duties, and it’s good as well. The opening flashback is very colourful with the wide range of aliens, the strange portals in the sky and the various warning lights. It looks like something straight out of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The rest of the comic shifts back and forth between colourful moments in bright environments and heavily shaded scenes that enhance the mood.
This story arc is really intense, and it feels like the entire series has been building up to this point so far. The family drama that made this series feel special from the start is still here, but by necessity of the story, it takes a much darker tone here. Superman’s heroic nature is being tested, and the ending teaser promises an action scene in the next issue that should be intense in multiple ways. If I had to have only one comic to pick up this week, it would be hard to come up with something better than this. Although this story arc is significantly darker than usual, it’s more of a family drama series than a superhero book, and that’s part of what makes it special. This series as a whole is an easy recommendation to Superman fans.