It’s all out war in Superman #11, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Ivan Reis, inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, colorist Alex Williams, and letterer Josh Reed. This issue picks up where the last left off, as Clark and Jon are confronted with a war for Jor-El’s ship on multiple fronts.
In a flashback, Rogol Zaar confronts Zod. Zaar wants to escape the Phantom Zone and asks Zod for help. Jax-Ur, another renegade Kryptonian shows up and helps to convince Zod to join Zaar’s cause. In the present, Superman and Jon confront the armies attacking Jor-El’s ship. Superman attacks Zaar, but he retreats, and Superman goes about backing off the ships attacking Joe-El. Superman and Jon confront Jor-El about why everyone is attacking him, but Zaar comes back and Superman fight him off. Zod and Jon fight, but Superman can’t stop it. As the fight intensifies, a last Kryptonian comes in to join the fight.
This one never lets up. Bendis starts in the past, showing readers how Zaar was able to escape the Phantom Zone. Having Zaar convince the vanquished Zod to show him how is better writing than Bendis is known for. Bendis usually ignores the past and soldiers on, but this development works with past continuity and gives the present battle some more weight. However, there is no real explanation about why the Thanagarians, Khunds, and the Triliums are in the fight.
That said, Bendis writes exactly what Superman fans want to see as he finds a way to defeat those fleets. Sure, he barely explains why they are fighting Jor-El, but the way Superman does it is perfect. Superman uses his knowledge of each force to bring them down. Bendis has a lot of problems with writing many characters correctly; most of his characters quip like Spider-Man and act in the same way. There is a lot of Superman barrelling through enemy ships here, but then he uses his mind to diffuse the situation. That’s Superman in a nutshell. Superman only punches when he has to, but if he can stop the fight without fighting too much, he will. Now, if there is going to be some nitpicking, the question would be why Thanagarians, Khunds, and the Trilium would fight Jor-El, but Bendis sidesteps that. This issue is spectacle and it’s a great spectacle.
Ivan Reis supplies that feeling. Reis’ work lately has been hit or miss lately. His detail has suffered at various points, but here, it feels like he went all guns on it. That may be to do with Joe Prado and Oclair Albert’s inks and that what makes it so much stronger. Superman flies through fleets of ships, destroying them, but his expressions still give readers his true intentions of stopping the fight and teaching Jon what being a hero is about. The opening scenes in the Phantom Zone are also wonderful, showing Zaar and Zod in circumstances that readers that haven’t seen them before.
Superman #11 is the pinnacle of Bendis’ run so far. It combines his penchant for being too verbose with actual action. There are very little points in this issue when the action flags and when it does, it serves the story. Reis’ art is the best it has been in a while. Reis earned his stripes penciling things like The Rann Thanagar War and Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern and that shows in this book. Everyone is firing on all cylinders for this issue and it shows.