Superman #40 review 


Jon Kent has been Superboy for awhile but he’s nowhere near blasé. The exhibits in his father’s Fortress of Solitude have him wide-eyed. But the likes of the interplanetary zoo and crystalline statues of his grandparents are nothing compared to the latest display... a holographic ‘film’ of the moment Krypton died. 



The alarm represents the most cosmic of coincidences - a signal that another world is soon to follow Krypton and become just a footnote in multiversal history. If he can’t save the planet, Superman is determined to at least preserve the populace. 

Obviously, Jon wants to go. Obviously, a world on the precipice of destruction is not somewhere you would take your son. Obviously, this is a comic, so here’s how the conversation plays out. 




And if Jon thought a hologram was amazing, there’s greater wonderment out there. 


Can father and son save a world?

OK, Superman should immediately have dropped Jon off with Lois and dared him to escape her reporter’s gaze. And he should have contacted the Green Lantern Corps, the JLA, someone, to get help - there’s no room for pride when a planet is about to go boom. 

But this is Superman’s book, not a team title, and the latest Superboy must have adventures, so I can go with it. Otherwise, we’d miss out on some great father/son moments, such as their shared astonishment at what happens when they meet the people of Galymayne. 

Guest writer James Robinson’s script is terrific, well-paced and full of personality. The dilemma facing Superman and Son is similar to one in another recent DC series, but different characters mean we’re getting a different story. Jon is developing a new identity, seeing himself as part of the immigrant experience, wanting to know more about where he came from. And Superman continues to grow into his role as father while remaining Earth’s greatest hero. 

The only real off-note in this first chapter is Superman reciting his list of weaknesses to an antagonist - not smart at all.  

Regular Team Superman member Doug Mahnke’s illustrations are as perfect as ever - he knows how these heroes move, and ensures their environments attract the eye. As for the expressions, Mahnke is up there with Kevin Maguire when it comes to capturing a range of subtleties. 

And full marks for nodding to Superman’s post-Crisis history with a full-page illo homaging the Superman: Exile storyline. Mahnke’s inkers, Jaime Mendoza and Scott Hanna, provide pin-sharp finishes, while Wil Quintana brings us a literal universe of colour. And letterer Rob Leigh produces an especially fine design for Robinson’s title, which works on more than one level given the main Superman books are coming to the end of an era >choke<. 


Happier things: Viktor Bogdanovic’s cover art, coloured by Mike Spicer, looks wonderful, while Jonboy Meyers’ variant speaks to the action of the issue with style. 


Superman #40 is a thoroughly enjoyable look at the state of the Superman universe - enjoy it while you can. 

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Superman #40 review, James Robinson, Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Scott Hanna, Wil Quintana, Rob Leigh, Jonboy Meyers, Viktor Bogdanovic, Mike Spicer, Jon Kent, Superboy

Comments

  1. Well produced but it felt uncomfortably like filler and I've never been a fan of stories where you save a group of people against their will. It's usually written like here as being like old time missionary work where you explained to people why they and their whole culture were wrong and you are right...

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    1. Hopefully Robinson will surprise us. I see Superman as seeing life as so sacred that he can’t begin to see this point of view.

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  2. "Enjoy it while you can." That really hits the nail on the head, Martin. This has been a wildly enjoyable run.

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    1. Hasn’t it! I really hate it when a big name creator bumps off a team who are doing great work.

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  3. Man, I'm going to miss this team (I say, after reading a book not even written by the regular writer).

    And sure, of course you don't bring your son into a a danger zone like a soon-to-explode planet...but at the same time, as you note, these are the allowances you have to make to allow your hero to be a parent at all. (And the logical inconsistency that likely prevented it for decades.)

    I share Steve's concerns about the possible outcome of the story - that Superman saves a culture in spite of its beliefs - but I wonder if that will be the outcome at all. As Steve says, it's a bit of a paternalistic problem: Does Superman's wish to save everyone negate this culture's wish to let nature take its course? Or more precisely -- how will Robinson and Mankhe construct the story so that those two seemingly opposing goods -- preservation of life and self-determination -- are both honored?

    I took a comics-writing course with Danny Fingeroth a number of years ago, and he brought in a bunch of guest-speakers from the industry. One writer -- it might have been Danny himself, but it might also have been Jimmy Palmiotti, Paul Kupperberg, Mike Mignola, Denny O'Neil, or someone else (what can I say? This was a GREAT class) -- who said the trick to writing powerful characters like Superman and the Flash was not to give them physical problems to overcome, but ethical problems to deal with. "Anyone can choose between good and evil," he said. "But give them a choice between two goods, and you've got a story."

    And that's what we've got here -- only frustrated by the fact that Superman doesn't seem to be acknowledging (yet) that it *is* a choice between two goods.

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    1. Terrific, thought-provoking comments, cheers! That writing course sounds brilliant. I can sell seen Denny as being the one to say how tough it is to write a powerful hero, given his run on the Superman book. He was reiterating that in his recent Word Balloon podcast interview.

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    2. I keep thinking, if our planet was in this danger and a Superbeing came here and contacted, say, and Evangelical cult that told him that humans were not wanting saved because this was God's will, would that be enough word for this Superbeing, or would he, maybe, ask others? After all, here on Earth a Hindu is not likely to see this the same way as a Catholic, or a Muslim, a Cherokee, or a traditional African Shaman.

      I should think most worlds are not monolithic cultures, in spite of Comics, and Star Trek, seeming to assume they are.

      I think Superman's approach was wrong, he should have left it and asked to get to know the people so they would not be forgotten and then found out if there were other religious/cultural factions that did not agree with dying with their home world.

      But, I kinda overthink these things. 😃

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    3. Never apologise for thinking... in this case, it would help if we knew what timescale Superman was working to - if planet death is imminent, he won’t have time to do research and has to make a decision. But if he has time, and learns that more than the odd person wants to live, he should save the whole planet and let people argue morals, religion and philosophy later.

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  4. Oh, and I should add that their ally at the end shows that the culture can't be treated as one being -- and even if the majority are happy to sign a suicide pact, what is Superman's obligation to the minority?

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