Man Of Steel #3 // Review
Man Of Steel #3, by Brian Michael Bendis, Ryan Sook, Jason Fabok, Wade Von Grawbadger, Alex Sinclair, and Josh Reed, opens with Rogol Zaar coming to Earth and ends with him confronting Superman and Supergirl. What happens in between, though, will give a readers an unexpected shock and delivers a blow to our heroes that they never expected. Bendis promised to shake things up and that promise is in full effect here.
Rogol Zaar arrives at the Fortress of Solitude and wrecks the place, but Kelex is able to get off a distress signal. Superman, investigating the string of arsons in Metropolis with Batman’s help, receives the signal and races off to the Fortress. Supergirl joins him there and they make a shocking discovery. They trail Zaar to Metropolis, the table set for an epic confrontation.
Unlike last issue with its plethora of plot lines, this one is relatively simple. There’s a feeling of momentum to it, as it moves things forward to the inevitable confrontation between Zaar, Superman, and Supergirl. There’s a specific thing that Zaar does at the Fortress that’s going to be a gamechanger in this story, especially for Supergirl. It brings a small, but important, part of the Superman mythos to an end. It also works perfectly with what readers know about Zaar and what he is. It’s a shocking moment because it’s so unexpected, even though it makes perfect sense from a story standpoint.
The script for this issue seems to be one of the most efficient scripts Bendis has ever wrote. There’s a minimum of filler and it gets to the point as quickly as possible. One of the book’s strengths so far is that Bendis is setting things up in an effective fashion. Everything feels like it’s going to build to something important. The inclusion of Batman in this issue is very nice and has a legitimate laugh out loud moment, but it’s also a parallel to John Byrne’s Man Of Steel mini-series, which also had Batman in the third issue. The Metropolis arson subplot is addressed nicely and it makes perfect sense for Superman to bring in Batman. Sure, Superman can use his super senses to see things Batman couldn’t, but he doesn’t have the crime solving chops of the Caped Crusader. A lot of times, Batman cameos in DC books feel like cash grabs, but here it makes total sense. Bendis gives readers another clue about what happened to Jon and Lois, revealing the culprit in silhouette. Using this series to set up what he’s doing down the road is the right way to go. The main plot with Zaar is good, but it’s all probably going to come down to a cliche Superman slugfest, whereas the arson plot and the disappearance of the Kents have a way more personal effect on Superman. He may be Kryptonian, but his only link to it is genetic. Metropolis and his family are way more real to him than the homeworld of his birth, and these plots pave the way for more personal stories to come. One of the strengths of the Rebirth Superman books was that the creators involved made sure to make things as personal as possible for Superman, allowing readers to empathize with him more than they have in the past. These plots give the impression that Bendis is going to keep that up and that’s a great thing.
Ryan Sook’s art impresses throughout and is probably the strongest issue of the book artistically so far. His linework is very clear and detailed. There’s a lot of double page spreads in this issue and every single one impresses. He uses the multiple panels to give the whole thing a sense of movement that plays into the momentum of the issue. There’s really only weak part of the art for the whole issue, and it’s when Superman and Supergirl make the discovery of the most terrible thing Zaar did at the Fortress. It’s a great looking scene, but it’s not as emotionally affecting as it could have been if it was laid out in a different way. It’s a blemish on an otherwise beautifully drawn issue.
Man Of Steel #3 delivers a big moment and sets up the cataclysmic confrontation between Zaar, Superman, and Supergirl. Bendis paces the issue perfectly and Sook’s art brings it all to life, granting it a fluidity and sense of movement that it needs. It’s a straightforward issue, but Bendis is still able to include little teases of other plots in a way that doesn’t slacken the pace of what’s happening. Bendis seems to have learned a lot of lessons about the deficiencies in his personal writing style and worked to correct them. So far, Man Of Steel has been an entertaining ride and this installment keeps that up.