Or I should say, why I am suddenly interested in Superman.
Let’s be honest, he’s a tough guy to write for. He’s more or less a deity that can’t be stopped. I always want to like Superman, but typically get bored when reading various stories about him (although I will say that I very much enjoyed Alan Moore’s treatment of Mister Mxyzpltk). He is a solar hero, and like Attis, Adonis, and even Osiris, is a member of the long line of other solar heroes embedded into humanity’s collective unconsciousness. And that has always intrigued me.
At least that is my thought regarding Superman.
After getting caught up with Brian Michael Bendis’ Man of Steel, I have to be honest. I like this Superman and I really like this story. It’s the kind of story that reminds you how bad ass Superman really can be. Like in the much maligned Justice League movie, you see Superman for what he really is. A very powerful manifestation of Creation that can absolutely destroy and do anything he wants. Batman knows this, Wonder Woman knows this, Adam Warlock knows this, and we do too. We just need friendly reminders from time to time.
Warning Spoilers Most Certainly Ahead
Where We Are
Subsequent to the Man of Steel mini series, we have seen:
- Superman fight the cosmic warrior known as Rogol Zaar
- We have learned Zaar has previously destroyed Krypton
- Supergirl has banished Zaar to the Phantom Zone
- The Fortress of Solitude was destroyed by Zaar
- We soon learn that a new Fortress has been resurrected in the Bermuda Triangle
- Jor-El, Superman’s estranged father has come back to Earth
- Jor-El has taken Jon Kent and Lois Lane into the Universe to mentor young Jon
Superman is now alone, without his family, on Earth, with no means to contact his loved ones.
The Amazing Solar Hero Returns
What I like about Bendis’ story is that he doesn’t hesitate to depict how amazing Superman is. In the first few pages, while aimlessly flying around the Universe with hope of finding a sign of his family’s travels, he comes upon a fleet of Dominator ships that is heading to Earth. In a matter of seconds, Superman absolutely destroys this armada of ships, and then moves on.
Later, when confronted with the Martian Manhunter, we see a most curious exchange. J’onn J’onzz, the heart and soul of the Justice League, asks Superman to, more or less, become the world’s dictator. The Manhunter believes Earth is destined to join the Galactic Community, but humans need guidance to get there. The Manhunter recommends that Superman "take" this mantle to unify and lead humanity into the future. It's an odd conversation, and I am curious how it plays out in the future issues.
The request aside, again we see how awesome Superman really is. During this talk, in what I am guessing is maybe a minute or two in length, we see Superman:
- Take down a mutant dinosaur/reptile
- Talk to J'onn, then
- Save a family from a fire, then...
- Return to J'onn, then
- Fly to the Moon to knock out some type of gorilla creature attacking a space shuttle, then
- Return to J'onn to express doubt in J'onn's request
Not bad, and yes, Superman is amazing.
As the issue ends, we see Clark Kent, as Superman, flying with thoughts of his far removed family. He gets faster, and faster, and faster, and suddenly breaks into the Phantom Zone. We leave with the impression that Earth is now engulfed in the Phantom Zone too, but how it got there is unclear.
I know Bendis gets knocked around by critics, but I like this comic book a lot thus far. He's done his research on the character, made him human, given him something that he loves, and made Superman what he truly is: the greatest superhero in the Universe. I like it, and will continue to pick this series up. I recommend it to anyone with interest in comic books.