On my second reading, I enjoyed Superman 36 a fair amount more than my first reading. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get much sleep last night, and reading it in the middle of a batch of new releases made it hard to focus. That’s part of the reason I’m considering only writing 2 full reviews this week. But in any case, here’s Superman 36.
Co-written by Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, this issue concludes Superman’s unplanned family trip to the planet of Apokolips. The previous issue ended with everyone getting together in the middle of a massive battle, with at least three sides fighting for control of the planet once ruled by Darkseid. Lois Lane, dressed as one of the Female Furies led by Granny Goodness, ends up showing some of her own self defense skills when they turn on her. Jon Kent (Superboy) proves himself as pretty good at heading a group of attack hounds that he found and tamed in the previous issue. But that’s not to say there isn’t tension in the fight, especially with an unconscious Lex Luthor facing execution by one of the more powerful characters in the fight.
After the fight concludes, there’s an inspirational speech by Superman, who agrees to take the Apokolips throne in order to usher in a new era of peace. Don’t worry, he’ll still be on Earth, delegating different leadership rolls on Apokolips to those who appear to deserve it. It’ll be interesting to see how this will turn out, and how long it’ll take before things go south again. There’s also a brief confrontation between Superman and Lex Luthor at the end of the comic. I’m not sure whether to describe their scene as ominous or the beginning of a redemption arc for Luthor. That’s another moment that could lead to something interesting. As someone who’s only experience with Apokolips is from the animated DC movies and scattered stories here and there, I enjoyed reading through a full Apokolips story for the first time.
The art by Doug Mahnke is good. The opening page shows a very detailed Apokolips, with the planet having a bit of a cracked appearance thanks to their kinds of technology, with smaller panels glimpsing at the battle the comic opens up with. The next page spread shows a chaotic action scene with Superman struggling in the foreground, Lois Lane being grabbed by a very powerful enemy, and Jon riding one of the massive war dogs he befriended in the previous issue. The action flows well throughout the battle. The grin Superman and Lois exchange at one point is a great little moment, and facial expression continue to work well throughout the comic. The colouring by Wil Quintana is also good. Apokolips is mostly blued out during the night sky in the battle, balanced out with a variety of outfits among the fighters. By contrast, the brief look at Metropolis at the end is bright and colourful, with good use of reflections off of Lex Luthor’s armour.
I still think that the previous issues in this story arc are better in that they focused on Superman’s family more, but this is a satisfying conclusion. In addition to wrapping up the story, it hints at several future stories, most of them ominous. A story arc that began with Superman and Lex Luthor getting along very well ended with clear distrust between them, and that could lead in an interesting direction itself. Superman fans should check this series out if they haven’t already, and those already enjoying Tomasi and Gleason’s run will likely enjoy this issue as well.