Superman #8 // Review
Jon’s tale of his “summer in space with Grandpa” continues in Superman #8, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artists Ivan Reid and Brandon Peterson, inker Joe Prado, colorist Alex Sinclair, and lettered Josh Reed. For the most part, this issue is kind of weak with an ending that's definitely interesting but also emblematic of one of Bendis’ biggest flaws.
Jon continues his tale of his time with Jor-El, highlighting the exact moment he decided Jor-El was crazy and it was time to go. Superman and Lois listen as Kelex the robot does tests to make sure Jon is who he says he is. Superman gets angry about losing time with his son to his father and flies off to clear his head. He encounters Mongul and uses him as a punching bag before going back to the Fortress and listening to the rest of Jon's story. After saving another planet with Jor-El, Jon encounters Arisia and Kilowog of the Green Lanterns and asks them to take him home. Jor-El overhears, and he and Jon have a strained discussion where Jon agrees to stay with him. Unfortunately, they encounter a black hole and Jor-El gets pulled in while Jon escapes… only to find himself face to face with some enemies who give the Justice League pause.
The big problems with this issue is that it's the most Bendis issue of Superman so far. Usually, it's over in Action Comics where readers get an issue full of talking with one of two splash pages of action, but this new story has brought that over to this book and it's a bit disappointing. There are ways to tell this type of story and still keep it action packed and exciting, but this is Bendis and when it comes to info dump type stories, he's going to dump as much info as he can without much regard for something as paltry as action. The ending is cool and surprising, but it also shows another bad tendency Bendis has in his work- ignoring previous continuity for the sake of his story. Now, granted, there may be a very good explanation for why this group is back around. It's always possible, but Bendis has never excelled in those kinds of things. He still hasn't explained how Jor-El is back, so there probably will be no resolution to this one either.
That said, so far, Jon still feels a lot like the Jon readers grew to love during the Rebirth years. He's not an edgy, moody teen, but he's also not completely the happy go lucky child readers once knew. Superman's tendency to take out his frustration by punching things in Bendis’ run is back in this issue and while it makes sense to an extent, it still feels weird. Superman has always had a side of him that got angry, but for him to fly off the middle of his son telling him a story to find something to hit feels so out of character. Bendis is trying to add his own wrinkles to Superman, to humanize him a bit, but it just feels strange here.
The art is great, as usual. Again, Brandon Peterson handles the flashback, which is the majority of the book, and his clean, highly polished style fits the more science fiction-y aspects of that part of the story. Ivan Reid handles the scenes in the present with his usual aplomb. Both get one action splash page to play with- Reis gets Superman punching Mongul, while Peterson gets Jon and Jor-El taking on a bunch of Thanagarians. Peterson's is the superior of the two, but it's a shame that both men didn't get more pages to play up the action.
Superman #8 is a bit of disappointment, story-wise. So far, Bendis has kept the worst of his writing style over in Action Comics, introducing bad OCs, cramming it with unneeded dialogue and sacrificing action for that, and basically doing whatever he wants with continuity. This issue introduces most of that to Superman and it's a shame. The ending is cool but probably will never be explained, the art is great, but Bendis indulges his worst tendencies in this one and it brings the book down. It's not terrible, but it's definitely disappointing.