The Metropolis Report: Batman/Superman #16 and Action Comics #1029

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Welcome everyone to the inaugural Metropolis Report, the near weekly column dedicated to all things Superman and the larger Superman family. Before we get started going over this week’s books, let’s address some questions you may have.

What made you want to do a Superman Column?

Well dear reader, I enjoy Superman comics greatly. If there is a character that I am willing to take a flyer on any given week, it is Superman.  Plus, I have lot of fun doing the Spawn Column and wanted to do another column. That and there are far too many Batman and X-men Comics.

What is the release schedule?

Weekly? Or close enough. Thing is that DC doesn’t really spread out the Superman books anymore and it isn’t like Superman is rocking for ongoings by himself. This isn’t full on Triangle Era. That said, there is nearly a Superman or Superman Family Adjacent books each week.

What books will be covered?

Right now? Action Comics and Superman are obviously the main two. After that? Well right now Batman Superman, Superman: Red and Blue (non-canon but very pretty), Justice League (not a Superman book but he is currently a major player, this can change), and it looks like Suicide Squad for a bit if Superboy sticks around as billed.

That’s it for now, let’s get on with the show!

Superman Deathwatch

First up, let’s start with the main storyline of the Superman books: The Impending “death” of Superman. Okay first off you can read my review of the first part here. Second, it’s obvious they are feigning Superman’s death. It is becoming quite apparent that Superman and Action Comics is going to go into some of the Future State stuff with Superman disappearing and likely ending up on Mongul’s War World variant. Not sure to what degree just yet, but with Superman and The Authority being announced for the fall, it looks like Clark Kent is taking some sort of step back and allowing for his Jon Kent (Superboy) to take charge.

So, let’s talk about this week’s chapter in this storyline with Action Comics #1029

Action Comics #1029

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Credits
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Pencils: Phil Hester
Inks: Eric Gapstur
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Dave Sharpe

Plot Summary

The dimensional rifts from Superman #29 are still raging and with each breach Superman grows weaker. Superboy cannot stand to watch his father continue to be ravaged and fearing that Superman may die as foretold in the future year of 31st Century, he takes charge of the situation. Superman takes pride in seeing his son succeed all the while we learn more about the greater forces taking aim for Superman: Mongul. The future has taken root in the present.

Thoughts on Action Comics #1029

This was another great issue by Johnson and Hester. The narration Johnson presented in Superman #29 felt stilted at times but here it feels a bit more sincere. The issue is nowhere near as silent as the previous chapter and instead it was much more filled with character moments. Johnson’s has found a solid voice for Superman and Superboy comes off more assured. The moment Jon steps up and takes charge of the situation was an excellent character moment. It speaks volumes about the direction they are going to go with Jon in the future.

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The art by Hester was superb as always. The animated style Hester employees in his work is visually appealing for me especially in a Superman book. I like my Superman to look more cartoony. It complements the inherit strength of the character and allows for a much more expressive look. Throughout the comic we see Superman just get shredded by these aliens and Hester renders it in a visceral but not over the top way. It is effectively disgusting.

Hester’s layouts and composition are top notch in the book, as well. The layouts keep the pacing of the comic brisk but allowing for character interactions. Then, there is this page where Jon steps up to the challenge and takes a blaster shot to the chest. This is a powerful moment cemented by a powerful splash page. The colors by Hi-fi complement Hester’s style so effectively it’s scary good this page is excellent example of that. The way the blast makes the “S-Shield” pop is breathtaking.

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I really enjoyed the conclusion to the Golden Age 2-parter and the end reveal with Mongul has me pumped for the future. I am a big mark for that big lug. The new design is really tight. I skipped out on most of the Future State books, however, I will definitely be getting the Superman trade (or singles if I catch a good deal). This is especially true with the Future State plotlines coming through loud and clear. I find this direction to be interesting in large part because I find the notion of DC Legacy characters captivating. I am curious on the direction of Jon Kent as the Superman Heir Apparent.

We shall see what lies ahead.

Talk about the back-up for a moment:

In this issue we have the Midnighter back-up written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad and illustrated by Michael Von Oeming and Taki Soma. As I said in my recommendation of Cave Carson, I adore Oeming’s artwork and that applies here. I am not too familiar with Midnighter (never read much of Authority and such). That said I like story and the art. This also is a continuation of the Future State plotlines. Not too much to comment on at the time as it is building up the story and I speak more on it as more pieces come into play.

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What Else Did Superman Do This Week?

Let’s go to the more non-mainstream Superman title this week with Batman/ Superman #16

Batman/Superman #16

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Credits:
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Sabine Rich
Letters: Saida Temofonte

Plot Summary

There is something bizarre obviously going on and the World Finest of Earth Zero are getting to the bottom of this. In two simultaneous storylines we see two different worlds where Superman exists but not Batman, vice-versa. In one world, Martha Wayne is demonstrating her latest discovery to the world and is rescued by Superman from the evil ploy of Lex Luthor. Meanwhile in a separate world, Batman is investigating the breakout of Arkham asylum spearheaded by the Spider Lady, Lois Lane. The investigation takes Batman to the Warden of Arkham before the boundary between world fails.

Thoughts on Batman/Superman #16

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Okay I don’t know who devised the layout designed but it works. With the story being presented as old-fashioned film reel, it allows the creative staff to platy in the boundaries in these film reels by treating the story more like two film serials that intersect when the film melts. Like I said, not sure if this was developed by Yang or Reis but DAMN it is novel and works so well.

As for the writing, Yang captures the tone of a film serial quite well with the plots feeling very much of their time but also the dialog and pacing. It is a quicker paced story that is compressed much like those old serials. The stories are very pulpy in direction and tone and I think it is well done. I do appreciate the nods to how the worlds are different due to lacking either Batman or Superman. The world feels very lived in despite being a snapshot.

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The art by Reis is fantastic as usual. I do love the design of the Golden-Age Superman. We don’t get to see that one that much but the boots even having straps on it was a nice detail. There is a lot of variance in Golden-Age Superman due to the lack of a formal style guide and the nature of the medium at the time, but this nails all the high points.

Rich’s colors help make the two storylines distinct with both groups being completely different worlds. It is usual Metropolis being the shinning city on the hill and Gotham being the dark dreary world, but the visual distinctions are welcomed. There is an added symbolism to the colors with the world without Batman being much brighter overall, even in Gotham. It is subtle visual touch but appreciated.

I immensely enjoyed this issue with the novel layouts and art. The pulpy writing is enjoyable and definitely was the most interesting Superman book of the week.

Notable moment

The official change to the Superman tagline- Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Superman is now the champion of Truth, Tolerance, and Justice. This is a much welcomed update from the Cold War mentality to the character. I understand that there has been a lot made of Superman\’s original tagline. That said American Way is a vestigial and almost malignant phrase. Superman is not just for a country. He is for the world and universe. I know this is controversial for some, but I don\’t care. Superman should not just be the American Hero. He is everyone\’s champion.


Wrapping it up

I hope you appreciate this inaugural edition of Metropolis Report. Join me next week when we see what Connor Kent-Superboy is up to in Suicide Squad.

Jordan Jennings

Jordan has written for wide array of comic review sites over the years including Comicosity, Comicon, and Comic Book Revolution. He has been reviewing and discussing comics for over 10 years. In addition to comics, Jordan enjoys various types of games be it video games or trading card games.

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