Review: Superman #33

The aren't enough pluses in the world for me to include with this grade of A.

The covers: Two different images that are both stellar. The Regular cover is by Ryan Sook. This is movie poster quality for epic-ness. A bust shot of Superman dominates the illustration. To his right is Superboy, his cape tattered, to his left is Lois, wearing a costume made of New Gods technology. Behind them is Apokolips, its fiery pits vomiting out energy. Below the Kent family is Lex Luthor wearing his Superman suit. He screams in rage. Steppenwolf is to his lower right and Granny Goodness to his lower left. Between the two villains are tiny versions of themselves with Super Luthor in the middle, white energy pouring out of his chest. At the bottom of this is a mob of bowing demons before Luthor. Holy cow! The Variant cover is by Jonboy Meyers and was the one I had to purchase; I love seeing defeated heroes held up by villains. This is a powerful image of Superboy raised up by Steppenwolf. The villain’s face is impassive at his triumph over the young hero. He holds a monstrous battleaxe in his right hand and is surrounded by two oversized canines. Fire is exploding behind and before them. The coloring is spectacular. I love this cover. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Imperius Lex, Part 1, “The Super Man Who Would Be King” by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason begins in stunning fashion. At the gates of Darkseid’s castle, a prophet looks skyward and sees his own death, “…but not until the one who has forsaken us sits again on Darkseid’s throne…” The citizens of Apokolips are tearing away at each other without a leader. Things are not going so well on Earth either, as a group of robbers wearing masks of the Justice League are leaving the scene of their most recent crime. They take off in their getaway car, when a shadow appears over their vehicle. “Wonder Woman” and “Batman” lean out of the car and shoot upwards. “Uh…guys?” Wonder Woman says. “This isn’t good.” Another shadow joins the first. “Okay, it’s worse now.” Superman has joined Super Man Lex Luthor to stop the thieves. Afterwards at the Kent apartment, things are going fine until something happens. What occurs is neat, calling back a key moment from the Superman film of 1978. The individuals that go after the Kents are fantastic as is their reason for attacking them. The final three pages have the story going in an unexpected direction and ending in the most foreboding of places, and that final word should be plural. No pun intended, I’m on fire to see what happens next! Overall grade: A+ 

The art: The first page teases how good Doug Mahnke’s pencils and Jaime Mendoza’s inks are going to be. Apokolips is the most fearsome planet in space. The prophet’s close-up in the second panel is awesome. The third panel pulls away from him to show how small he and Ardora are, ending with the pair trekking somewhere with the fiery death and destruction of the world around them. This teased violence explodes on Pages 2 and 3 which feature four horizontal panels that travel across both pages. The notorious minions of Darkseid are shown battling one another and they look epic! The fourth page moves to Metropolis with the Justice League of Armed Robbery is trying to escape their crime scene. I’m so thankfully that a computer was not used to create a blur effect to speed their exodus, but that the artists were capable of doing so on their own. 5 is a full-paged splash of Lex and Superman seen from the villains’ point of view. Notice Lex’s look at the hero — awesome! The take down of the villains would have been better had computer blurs not be used. This greatly distracts from the story. The first panel on 9 is a great image of the heroes side by side; Superman gives his version of Lex’s look from Page 5. The capture on 10 is great, with the technology being fantastic. The characters that arrive on 14 look good, with them Mignola-esque. The battle with these beings is great; the layout of panels on 17 intensifies the skirmish, as the panels are not uniformly shaped. The energy flying about on 18 and 19 is outstanding and the final page’s panels so detailed to make the 14 day wait impossible. This book looks great! Overall grade: A

The colors: Wil Quintana is lucky to be alive after all the work he put into this book. He completes this book’s visual feast. The glow emanating from Apokolips is spectacular. The shading done on characters’ flesh makes them practically three dimensional. The oranges and yellows done for the hellish nature of Darkseid’s world are staggering. The coloring for the sounds of the thieves’ weapons is bold in red. The arrival of the heroes on 5 has them against a yellow background, like gods arriving in the night. The bottom panel on 8 is beautiful for the work done with all the lights. The green used for the background atop 9 is terrific. The yellows from 5 are repeated in the characters’ faces that appear on 14. Notice how green again makes an excellent background color to have energy pop off the pages. The yellows and oranges return on the final page to show the nightmare the heroes are now living. Outstanding in every possible way. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, the story’s title and credits, sounds, screams, transmissions, yells, a whistled tune, a whisper, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Rob Leigh. The scene settings are exciting in a bold, slanted font, almost as if they are compelling the reader to move to the next location quickly. The sounds are good, especially from the opening chase and capture and the fight with the individuals at the end. I love the whispered words of the final page, showing the fear of one character. Leigh always delivers the goods. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The aren’t enough pluses in the world for me to include with this grade of A. I can’t ding the book because of two improperly computer blurred panels — the book is incredible with its visual delights. The story sets the stage for the Kents on Apokolips and I will camping at my local comic book store for the next issue. Simply put, this is incredible. Overall grade: A+

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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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