In Review: Superman #28

Everything that Superman stands for is in this issue.

The covers: The Kents are on vacation, touring the nation’s capital, and this gives artist Ryan Sook an opportunity to create a patriotic cover and he succeeds. Going to one knee, father Clark points out a distant landmark to son Jonathan, as mother Lois looks on. The family is at Arlington National Cemetery. Behind them are those who have fought and died for America, from the Revolutionary War to the current conflict in Afghanistan. Behind the soldiers is Superman holding an American flag that covers the background. Outstanding image and sensational coloring make this a winner. The Variant cover by Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez was the cover I had to pick up. The title character’s shadow falls upon a crowd of people who look up at the hero. Some wave, others are stunned. One gives a fist pump, and a fireman salutes. How people react to the Man of Steel is often overlooked in comics, since a flying man isn’t something new to them, but this illustration captures the wonder that such an individual can bring to a crowd. I really like this. Overall grades: Both A

The story: “Independence Day” is an excellent stand alone story by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason. This is an excellent issue to introduce new readers to Superman. There are no super villains in the issue, instead the story focuses on Clark and Lois showing their son Jonathan several of the historical sites on the east coast. The issue starts with Lois and Jonathan waking to find that Clark has changed into his Superman clothes so that he can carry their RV in the air to bypass the highway and make up some time. At the United States Captiol Building in Washington D.C., Jonathan notices that the same protesters that were outside when they entered the building are still outside yelling at each other. This gives his parents an opportunity to discuss freedom of speech and the power that words carry. At the World War II Memorial, the Kents take turns reading the plaques. The Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial are also visited. The family arrives at one famous location where a pivotal battle was fought and it’s here that something is brought up that causes Clark to consider something. The issue ends with Superman doing something that creates chills. This story is patriotic, personal, and moving. Everything that Superman stands for is in this issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book are hit and miss. The opening page nicely shows Lois and Jonathan waking up, while the full-paged splash of Page 2 shows Superman in action, but it’s hard to overlook how blocky the RV looks. Page 3 does a decent job with the setting and all the characters, but the dialogue balloons are really overpowering the visuals. This isn’t artist Scott Godlewski’s fault, though laying out the panels differently might have made things better. The double-paged spread on 4 and 5 is tremendous. It is incredible and really makes the dialogue powerful. The next two memorials that are visited are difficult to make out: the Korean memorial barely focuses on the statues that represent the soldiers, while the Vietnam memorial is really dark. I was in D.C. four years ago and they were much better lit and there were lots of people around — the Kents are utterly alone at both locations. Better is the park that the family visits, with Godlewski doing an excellent job showing what occurred at that location and comparing it to the present. The flashback told on 14 and 15 is terrific, with capturing a frightful piece of history. 17 has an excellent two panel sequence where Clark is dwelling on something, though Lois looks like she’s a teenager as she lays next to him. The two pages that follow contain very little dialogue, yet Godlewski makes them incredibly effective with Superman’s actions. Stronger visuals would have made this story better, but what Godlewski does is fine. Overall grade: B

The colors: Gabe Eltaeb’s colors are excellent. The first page uses colors to show the dawning of a new day with dim ones used for Lois and Jonathan’s awakening and brighter ones for when they open the curtains to their RV. The splash on Page 2 is brighter still to show the day realized and to spotlight Superman. Even while dressed in his tourist clothes, Clark still sports his Superman colors: a blue tee shirt and red shorts. Pages 4 and 5 use light colors on the flag to allow the green of the soldier to rightly mix with it. When the family visits its final location, coloring is key to creating the missing picture of what Clark is describing and Jonathan is seeing. The two pages of flashbacks are tinted to age them and then visually set the tone of the text before one word is even read. Any book by Eltaeb is worth picking up. Overall grade: A

The letters:  Sounds, dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, scene settings, a historical marker, a handwritten note, signage, and the tease for next issue comprise this issue’s text. I love when story titles set the stage for the tale and Rob Leigh does a superb job with the one for this book, which runs horizontally. The dialogue is easy to read throughout, and there’s a heck of a lot of it in several panels and Leigh doesn’t have many places to put it, such as on Page 3, while on others, 4 and 5, he’s got plenty. The handwritten note is the most important piece of text of the issue and I’m bit surprised it’s not in cursive. Clark would know how to write in cursive and use it, but I’m afraid most readers wouldn’t be able to read it. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A vacation issue for the Kents shows what’s important to Superman and how he will always help America’s soldiers. Patriotic and heartfelt. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Superman-2016-28/digital-comic/540282?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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