Review by J.T. Johnson
Not long ago, the name Brian Michael Bendis was almost synonymous with Marvel. That’s why it was a huge surprise when the veteran comic book writer announced that he was leaving Marvel and heading over to Marvel’s main rival, DC Comics. It was then announced that Bendis would be taking over both “Superman” and “Action Comics” and that his run would start with a six-issue limited series called “The Man of Steel”.
I should state that when I learned that Bendis was taking over Superman, I was skeptical. He used to be a really strong writer for Marvel, but I found his later work lacking in quality. My only hope was that by jumping ship and coming over to DC, it would recharge his creative batteries.
I’m thankful to say that this is the case when it comes to “The Man of Steel”. If “Superman” and “Action Comics” reach the level that Bendis is writing at with this miniseries, then both titles are due for legendary runs. Bendis adds a new element to the Superman myth while beautifully setting up where his stories will go when his time begins on the two flagship titles.
In this story, though, we are introduced to Rogol Zaar and apparently, he destroyed Krypton. We eventually see how he did it… or do we? The truth is while we definitely learn that Zaar hates Kryptonians, we don’t really get all of the answers as I’m sure Bendis is setting him up for future issues. The entire six-issue run is basically Superman and Supergirl trying to take Zaar down.
They also have a more personal interest not just because he claims he destroyed Krypton, but because he also destroys the bottle city of Kandor, containing the last Kryptonians. In addition to this, another new character named Melody Moore is a fire chief that has been trying to solve the mystery of several different fires in Metropolis. This is another story that is set up and will be explored in later issues of “Action Comics” and “Superman”.
Finally, in an event set not long before the events of “The Man of Steel”, Jor-El shows up to take Jon away from Clark and Lois. Jon is still trying to figure out his place in the world and in Kryptonian culture, he is already a man. Jor-El wants to take Jon away and show him the galaxy in order to teach him about the Universe.
While Clark and Lois don’t want him to go, they know he has to ultimately join his grandfather. Due to this, Lois decides to join them and they head off to the galaxy, leaving Superman alone on Earth. I think this is how Bendis is going to focus solely on Superman for a minute, but he immediately promises through the story that Jon and Lois will return and I’m sure it is also a set up for a future story as well.
This was ultimately a fun story in order to begin Bendis’ time with the big blue boy scout and it shows that the writer has a full understanding of the character. My only real problem with this mini-series is that Bendis worked with several guest artists on each issue. The art is fine for the most part but issue #5 stuck out like a sore thumb and I didn’t really care for the art featured within. Despite that criticism, though, I had a blast reading “The Man of Steel” pretty much from start to finish. More importantly, it also did its other job and now I can’t wait to pick up both “Superman” and “Action Comics” when they return to comic book shelves!