Superman #12 // Review
It’s Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl versus Rogol Zaar, Zod, and their Phantom Zone army in Superman #12, by writer Brian Micheal Bendis, artist Ivan Reis, inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, colorist Alex Sinclair, and letterer Josh Reed. This one is kind of hard to quantify. The beginning half of the issue is an action-packed slugfest, but the last half is where it gets, well, interesting.
Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy fight the Phantom Zone army. Zaar and Superman, but Zaar barrels past him to get to Supergirl, who has his power staff. Zod attacks Superman, and as they fight, they go to superspeed for a moment before Jor-El calls everyone back to the ship. The Super family gets aboard, uses their heat vision to fight off Zaar and his forces, and then the vessel jumps away. Supergirl tells everyone what she found out on her travels about the destruction of Krypton and asks if Jon can join her. Superman allows it, and the two of them leave. Jor-El and Superman talk about what Zod said to him while at superspeed- Zod is only working with Zaar to find out who was behind the destruction of Krypton and destroy them all. Jor-El drops a bombshell on Superman about the Circle, the beings behind the decision, and brings Superman to Krypton.
So, to start with the good, the art in this issue is beautiful. Ivan Reis has been sort of hit or miss lately, but here he knocks it out of the park. Reis does a near perfect job capturing the scope of the battle, while also doing a bunch of good character work. There’s a few stand out splash pages- one with the entire Super family fighting on it with Superman and Zaar in the foreground (although, it has to be turned sideways to read the caption, which is kind of annoying and feels very 90s) and another with Supergirl punching Rogol Zaar. Another great panel is the reunion of Jon and Krypto and Superman’s reaction to it.
The battle is really the highlight of the issue, and from there it gets into more Bendis-y territory. The info dumping towards the end isn’t terrible, though, but more on that later. Zod’s reasoning for teaming with Zaar makes a lot of sense. It was strange for the two of them to team up, to begin with, so this explanation makes it work better. Bendis gets a lot right, like with the Jon-Krypto-reunion as mentioned earlier and Superman’s reaction to it, and giving Ivan Reis a lot of great stuff to draw.
The problem comes when he starts making reveals later in the issue. How much these reveals will affect readers depends a lot on how much they like Bendis and his retconning of the destruction of Krypton. It’s all competently done, but if the individual reader doesn’t like it, these scenes are going to ring hollow and might even infuriate them. The conspiracy of beings behind the destruction of Krypton has always been one of the weaker parts of Bendis’ run, and there’s big reveal here that adds to that story. It’s not extremely surprising, but it’s a big deal for this storyline. A definite disappointment is Bendis sending Jon away with Supergirl. Readers have missed the character, and it would have been nice to spend more time with him in this book.
Superman #12 is hard to quantify. It starts out really good, with wonderfully drawn and exciting action. Ivan Reis knocks it out of the park in these pages, showing readers how great he can be. The second half of the issue is well done, but how much a reader enjoys it will depend heavily on how much they are into Bendis’ Krypton retcon. This isn’t at all a bad issue; far from it, really. It does a great job of setting up more things for the future, and they are all pretty intriguing. However, if the reader doesn’t like what Bendis has been doing, they aren’t going to like what they see.