Like I said last week, I considered not writing comic reviews today. Why? It’s the start of NaNoWriMo, an annual month of writing madness where people all around the world try to write 50,000 words or more in 30 days. I usually try to get a huge head start on day one (my personal 24 hours record, from last year, is over 21,000 words on November 1). But since I’m writing science fiction this year, a genre I’m not all that familiar with writing, I decided to ease into it at first. As such, I’ve only written 5,292 words so far, and I’ll probably cap it off with one more chapter this evening.
Anyway, Superman 34 is written by Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. It picks up after the previous issue left off, with Lex Luthor, Superman, Lois Lane and Jon Kent all teleporting to Apokolips. I’m not too familiar with the planet, but I do know that it’s traditionally ruled by Darkseid, who’s a major villain in the DC Universe and at least a Superman level threat. This story’s been hinted at a couple times through both this series and Action Comics since the beginning of Rebirth. To sum up the backstory as this comic explains, Darkseid is dead, and some of Apokolips’s inhabitants are hoping that Lex Luthor will take the crown and help the planet be a better place.
One thing that makes the Superman series special is that for the most part, it’s telling a lot of great stories about Superman’s family. This issue works like that on a different level, with each member of Superman’s family ending up on a different part of the planet. The comic opens with Lois’s scene. She’s captured by the Female Furies (Darkseid followers) at first, but later shows her resourcefulness and intelligence by helping them in a fight. Granny Goodness even invites them into their ranks, something that Lois is clearly conflicted about. Her scene may be the best part of this issue if only because she’s forced to side with the enemy in order to survive, which could go in so many different directions.
Superman doesn’t get much panel time here, but his moment ties directly into Lex Luthor’s scene and it’s a dramatic moment to say the least. Apart from that, Lex Luthor’s scene carries the most exposition out of the comic. In Jon’s scene, he’s attacked, implying that he’ll need to survive on his own for at least a chunk of this story. Not much else to say about his really short scene.
Most of this issue is build-up, but it’s effective. The pacing is fast enough that it never gets dull, and there’s just the right amount of exposition that we know what’s going on in case we’ve never heard of Apokolips before, or we haven’t read the events leading up to this story. But because it’s mostly build-up, it’s hard to judge how this story will turn out. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this story goes though.
The art by Ed Benes, Doug Mahnke and Jack Herbert is great. I’m not entirely sure which artist handles which pages, but it seems like each artist takes on a different part of the story. The styles are similar in how detailed they are, with backgrounds complete with strange buildings and rock formations, and a great variety of outfits and character appearances. Jon’s scenes are full of fire and smoke in the background, making his moment feel the most visually intense. It also exaggerates his youth a bit (not a bad thing). Dinei Ribeiro handles the colouring, and it’s also great. The overall orange and brown backgrounds is contrasted well with a variety of outfit colours. There’s also brilliant use of lighting from laser blasts and light reflections.
It’s too early to call this comic great, but it’s fun and it’s an appropriately intense opener for a story taking place on Apokolips. Each family member must show their own methods of survival in a variety of situations, and while this is a kind of story that’s been done a lot of times in comics, it already feels at least a little unique. That’s only partly because one of them is a regular human and a reporter, and another is just a kid. This is definitely worth a look if you’re a Superman fan, and an easy recommendation to anyone who’s enjoyed this series up to this point.