In a wise move, Brian Michael Bendis pivots from focusing on Rogol Zaar, the villain of the Man of the Steel to the even juicier mystery: where is Lois Lane (and Jon Kent)? Most of Man of Steel #2, and the man who wrote an ongoing series based on the investigative reporting branch of The Daily Bugle (RIP The Pulse) is in his element writing Sorkin-esque speeches from Perry White about truth and journalism between his frustration with Jimmy Olsen or juicy newsroom gossip. And he’s helped by some fantastic art from Doc Shaner, Jay Fabok, and Steve Rude, who brings an old school flair to the second half of the comic and turns in possibly the best Perry White page yet.
If anything, Man of Steel has been a showcase for some fantastic artwork, and we get the one-two punch of Shaner and Rude in issue two. After an overly edgy prologue where two fellows named Lord Gandelo and Appa Ali Apsa do some literal damage control on Krypton, Shaner demonstrates why he’s one of the most wholesome artists in the business as Superman dismantles one of Toyman’s robots and smiles when Hal Jordan makes a surprise cameo. (Alex Sinclair is a master at coloring intense, intergalactic situations though.) There’s a Saturday morning cartoon vibe to Superman taking out the wannabe Gundam and providing notes on Toyman’s less than stellar villainous banter game, and Shaner systematically shows each big moment with a clear use of angles and perspective. But, then, Superman rebuffs a “check-in” with Hal and flies into red and yellow watercolors showcasing his speed and desire to save as many people as possible.
Even though it’s not integral to the overarching mystery of Man of Steel , the moment where Superman brushes off Hal is probably Bendis, Shaner, and Rude’s best work in the comic. First, even Superman needs someone to ask him how’s he doing, and it was cool to see Bendis include that in the hullabaloo of a supervillain battle. But, then he flies off back to the Planet so he can quickly file his story as Clark Kent. Having a secret identity isn’t great for social graces or responsibilities, and Superman that it’s easier for him to rebuff niceties in costume than in his civilian guise. As Superman, he’s an icon and constantly on call so it’s easy for him to get back to saving the world and not behave like a human being/good friend. It’s kind of like the Pope, the pre-2016 President of the United States, or any highly visible public figure not having time to grab a beer or catch up with an old college roommate because they have to board a plane or somewhere or have a briefing. This is contrast with the more approachable and harried Clark Kent, who would probably get called an asshole for pulling that stunt so he leaves that move for Superman.
This great moment is bookended by some not so great ones like Rogol Zaar finally arriving in Metropolis after being teased months ago in Action Comics #1000 as the cliffhanger ending and yet another blinding light moment of vagueness from Bendis and Fabok featuring Lois and Jon’s whereabouts that plays like a rerun of the ending of Man of Steel #1. Even at DC, Bendis’ plots still work better at a trade paperback versus single issue level, but this is offset by the energy he brings to the Daily Planet. I’ve really only mentioned Shaner and Rude’s skill at action and showing Superman’s power and heart, but they also draw the hell out of a bustling newsroom crowd sequence along with gestures and facial expressions that give a little extra “oomph” to their sparring about publishing an article on Lois Lane going MIA and the conflict between being a hard hitting journalistic institution and a gossip rag. Because unlike his Marvel Comics newspaper editor counterpart, Perry White actually gives a damn about truth, justice, and all that stuff, and it comes across in his passion and frustration about the current state of the Planet.
Bendis has yet to hit a home run at DC Comics, but Man of Steel #2 is a solid base hit that continues to look at how Superman/Clark Kent feel about the world around them and their relationships while digging a little bit more into the Lois Lane mystery on both an earthbound and intergalactic level. Also, the Daily Planet has never felt so vibrant, and Doc Shaner seriously needs to draw a Superman/Green Lantern team-up miniseries.
Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Doc Shaner, Steve Rude Jay Fabok
Colors: Alex Sinclair Letters: Josh Reed
Story: 7 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review