In Review: Superman #35

Two issues a month look to be too much for this title to keep up consistent visuals.

The covers: A very different pair of covers for fans to collect for this issue. The Regular cover is by Patrick Gleason & Dean White and features the main character of this issue, Superboy. His mother had last issue to herself, so it makes sense for Jonathan Kent to get some focus. Looking like Mad Max from outer space, Superboy, whose costume is torn in many places, sits atop a massive Hunger Dog, while two other, smaller curs flank the larger beast. It’s a cool cover and Superboy looks terrific. I wish that the Dogs looked as good, but the larger animal has armor that disguises too much of its features. The Variant cover is by Renato Guedes and ties into the Justice League movie, featuring, from left to right, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Batman standing on a giant metallic version of Superman’s S logo. The characters look like the actors from the film, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck. If one is a fan of the film, this is the cover for you. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant A-

The story: Patrick Gleason & Peter J. Tomasi start off the third part of Imperius Lex titled “World of Flame” with some major action. Superman and Superman-Lex Luthor are flying away from the zealots who no longer believe Superman to be the deity who can save Apokolips. Naturally they’re arguing as they make their escape, with the Man of Steel carrying his enemy to safety. Suddenly a Boom Helmet is deployed and wraps around the Kryptonian’s face, who can’t see. Lex maneuvers himself to get on his enemy’s back and steer him while he flies. As they evade pursuers that fly after them, Lex is able to get the helmet off Superman and they escape as the zealots use the technology to create a Boom Tube to teleport Superman to them. Seeing that their actions were fruitless, Ardora vows that “Darkseid’s throne will not languish vacant for long!” The story then moves to Jonathan, who is witness to an impending murder. Unable to stand by and do nothing, Superboy intervenes and that’s when things get interesting. I liked the reaction from those he saved and I could have gone several more pages, or issues, with the young hero running about Apokolips with his new allies. However, Gleason and Tomasi don’t do this, instead returning to Superman and Luthor who are captured by a notorious villain of the deadly world. This individual intends to use the pair to do something colossal, but is interrupted by other characters seen last issue. A fight breaks out and a someone helps Superman, but not before something terrible is done to the world. To make matters worse, a new threat is racing to attack the heroes and villains. I enjoyed how all the storylines were beginning to merge and everyone got some good action in this issue. What happens next will be very interesting! Overall grade: A

The art: This element of the issue is not great. There are three artists for this issue and that’s two too many. Travis Moore, Stephen Segovia, & Art Thibert are the credited illustrators. It’s not stated who is responsible for which pages (Shame on you, DC! Editor Paul Kaminski, what happened?), but it’s obvious when the artist changes. The styles of these three artists and very different and does a disservice to the story because it’s jarring when a change occurs. The first page is a full-paged splash that looks okay, but the characters chasing them and the background structures are pretty murky. The layout of Pages 2 and 3 is good, but Lex’s suit does not look good, nor does the Boom Helmet. Look at the last full panel on 2, Lex looks awful. The fourth page looks much better. A change of artists occurs on 5 and I thought I was looking at Lois Lane in several panels because of Jonathan’s eyelashes. All of the sixth page has him looking like a young woman. On 7 he finally looks like a boy, but look at the characters he’s fighting — they’re very simplistic. However, Page 9 looks terrific. Page 12 is a full-paged splash and it’s a mess: the villain’s face is obscured by too much black space and there’s a terrible computer blur at his feet: did he emerge from the ground? If so, there’s not enough debris. The characters that arrive on 14 don’t look threatening at all, with their leader seeming to have lost several pounds from last issue. Another artist takes over on 15 and this individual has gained all her weight back. The following page has an outstanding action sequence where all the players are clearly seen. However, what’s going on in the background? What’s with all the Kirby Krackle? The location is supposed to be close to one of the massive exhaust ports that surround Apokolips, but that should be located before the two bound heroes, not in the city. The action on 18 is unclear; I thought the final panel was from New Genesis’s point of view until I turned the page. At least the final two pages look good. One artist would have made this a much better visual experience. Overall grade: D+

The colors: Dinei Ribeiro starts things off fine with the orange skies of Apokolips instantly showing the setting to be far from Earth. Two panels on 2 and 3 are in circles and they are outlined in red, with one’s background being in bright yellow to make it stand out. On 4 the colors dim considerably. Why? The colors become good again when Jonathan becomes the focus, though when he springs into action there’s not much Ribeiro can do to help the art, it being too dark or too simple. The art on 12 isn’t great, but the colors are bright, putting some energy into the image. Then the colors go flat on 14? Why? Coloring would have helped the action on 16, but there’s too much yellow and orange, making the figures blend in with the background too easily. The coloring of this book was all over the place as well. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Dialogue, yells, the story’s title and book’s credits (same font), transmissions, groans, sounds, and the tease for next issue are brought to life by Rob Leigh. Everything about Leigh’s contributions are good. There are several small panels in this issue, yet Leigh can make it fit seamlessly in without stepping on the art. The yells are strong, whether bellowed by heroes or villains. The sounds are a blast to read aloud, with my favorite being at the top of 18 — FAWOOM. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Two issues a month look to be too much for this title to keep up consistent visuals. DC, one book a month could be done by one artist. The story and the letters are fine on this book, but the visuals are disappointing. And on a flagship title, too. Unbelievably disappointing. Overall grade: C

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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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