Tag Archives: Rogol Zaar

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Review: Man of Steel #3

While the previous issue focused on Clark Kent’s relationship to his co-workers at the Daily Planet, Brian Michael Bendis makes Man of Steel # about Kal-El’s connection to his Kryptonian heritage beginning with a tragic, nearly silent opening sequence drawn by Ryan Sook and Alex Sinclair of Rogol-Zaar wrecking the Fortress of Solitude, including the Bottle City of Kandor making its first substantial appearance in the DC Rebirth era. There’s also a Batman cameo that goes nowhere (Except for inspiring Superman to think more like a detective.), and the shadowy Jay Fabok drawn figure slowly emerges from the shadows in the Clark and Jon flashback. So, like most of this miniseries so far, it’s a visually stunning mixed bag as Bendis and Sook finally catch up to the story in Action Comics #1000 timeline-wise.

Man of Steel has been a mini filled with great artists like Ivan Reis, Jay Fabok, Evan Shaner, and Steve Rude, but Ryan Sook proves that he has the best storytelling chops of the bunch. He is equally adept at big, bombastic moments like Rogol-Zaar crashing into Earth’s orbit and the smaller, human ones like Superman politely waving to Melody while he and Batman investigate another arson in Metropolis, or Supergirl comforting her cousin while he mourns the lost Kryptonians of Kandor. The pages where Superman and Supergirl are in the Fortress is a master class in emotional progression that starts by the cousins walking around their Arctic shelter and surveying the damage before bursting into pure anguish when they see the destroyed Bottle and then flight. Then, in another double page spread, Superman uses his flight, super hearing, and X-Ray vision to check on his apartment, co-workers, and then focus on the thread at hand. Hey, Batman isn’t the only one with “detective vision”. And Sook’s few pages of action really pack a wallop with yellows and reds from Sinclair showing that Rogol Zaar packs a real physical threat to Superman.

Brian Michael Bendis’ use of Supergirl and Batman in Man of Steel #3 is a very quick study is how and how not to use guest stars in a comic book. First of all, their appearances both make logical sense. Batman is helping Superman investigate a mystery that is bothering, namely, how are all these fires happening under his practically omniscient and omnipresent nose? Because she is Kryptonian, Supergirl can hear the unique frequency of the Fortress of Solitude’s alarm and quickly sees if the place that is the last sanctuary and repository of her home culture is under attack. However, with Batman, it seems like Bendis is just checking off writing DC’s other big hero instead of using him in a meaningful way. Of course, his first line of dialogue is “I’m Batman” to slightly freaked out/fangirling Melody Moore, and then he spouts off something about patterns and something respectful about Superman because that’s the kind of relationship Bendis lets them have, which is cool. But Batman doesn’t add a set of fresh eyes to any of Man of Steel’s mysteries, including the arson, and definitely not the missing Lois and Jon one. In fact, Superman comes off as the better detective as he quickly finds and engages Rogol-Zaar after cutting a swath of destruction through the Fortress.

On the other hand, Supergirl’s guest turn adds more layers of emotional poignancy to the destruction of the Bottle City of Kandor, a place that Kara may have even remembered visiting, because she came to Earth much older than Kal-El. Her appearance in Action Comics #1000 isn’t just a random cameo, but as a friend, family member, and Kryptonian fighting against an enemy that wants to obliterate all remnants of her and Kal’s culture. Bendis and Sook lean into the Kryptonians as immigrant metaphor with the items in the Fortress of Solitude representing memories and heritage of the homeland. Even if he barely speaks in this issue and is still mostly a one dimensional force of destruction and genocide,  Bendis and Sook position Rogol-Zaar as an anti-immigrant villain. To go along with this, Kara even gets a great action moment swooping up a faltering Superman with some Sook speed lines and delivering a one-liner before the brawl begins. Rogol-Zaar thought he had to fight one last of son of Krypton, but there’s a last daughter too.

The mystery parts of Man of Steel #3 barely progress (I have a fairly obvious theory about who the mysterious attacker is in the Lois and Jon flashbacks.), but Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook hit a strong emotional beat with Superman and Supergirl’s reactions to the destruction of the Fortress of Solitude and the Bottle City of Kandor. Rogol-Zaar’s motivation is wholly tied to Krypton so this is line with his character and shows that Bendis understands Superman’s alien and human heritage. A pity that the Batman subplot went nowhere.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Ryan Sook, Jay Fabok Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
 Colors: Alex Sinclair Letters: Josh Reed
Story: 6.8 Art: 9.2 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Man of Steel #2

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

Review: Man of Steel #1

Besides an ominous villain-centric prologue featuring Rogol Zaar from Action Comics #1000 and a deep cut cameo, Brian Michael Bendis’ first full DC comic: Man of Steel #1 lacks a real plot hook beyond “Something is coming”, and it’s connected to Superman’s past, or the ending of Action Comics #1000. However, Bendis shows he can write the heck out of both Clark Kent and Superman putting him through his paces as a superhero fighting villains, guardian of the weak, inquisitive journalist, husband, and father. And when they get a full page (or sometimes two), Ivan Reis and Joe Prado turn in beautiful work of Superman humorously chiding two Gotham villains, who thought they could carve out a small piece of Metropolis or taking a second out of his busy day to listen a girl play a song for her best friend. And, of course, he saves both pets and small children in this comic book.

But back to the bad guys for a second. In the opening of the comic, Reis, Prado, and especially colorist Alex Sinclair churn out some heavy metal, cosmic evil in Man of Steel #1 with Rogol Zaar putting together his version of a Power Point presentation for some kind of intergalactic, multiversal governing body about why Krypton should be destroyed.  Some cynics might consider this scene derivative of Bendis’ Illuminati in his New Avengers run, but it’s much larger scale. (Except for the one that gets named later, I have no idea who the heck these guys are either.) Rogol Zaar’s motive boils down to being a more cosmic scale 1960s Magneto: the Kryptonians are starting to expand to other planets so they should immediately be subjected to genocide. He’s very much a black hat, and hopefully future issues add some depth to him or add an even Bigger Bad that’s just using him as muscle. But, for now, his design has a kind of mid-1990s Wildstorm excess to it with a touch of a space barbarian, and it’s sad that Reis only gets a few panels of him in actual action.

Other than feeling a twinge of disappointment with the not-really-a-cliffhanger ending of Man of Steel #1 from Bendis and guest artist Jay Fabok, my main takeaway is that Bendis gets Superman at a macro level. He has godlike powers, but wants to be human and uses these extra abilities to serve humanity. Superman loves and enjoys humans and wants to keep him safe. The scene where he takes a beat after easily stopping (and not dropping) Firefly and Killer Moth to listen to a girl play music is just breathtaking. Reis and Prado deal in the majestic and blockbuster in their artwork and are mostly a good fit for this book even though they whiff on a comedy sequence where Metropolis’ new deputy fire chief acts like she has a crush on Superman. They show that even if his powers are over the top, he cares about each life that he comes into contact with. If a building’s on fire, he won’t just rescue its inhabitants; he’ll absorb the brunt of its heat and destruction with his own body. It’s like that great scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Superman takes the full force of a nuke with his body and shrinks, but more down to Earth and shows the daily sacrifices that the Man of Steel makes every day.

I also like how Brian Michael Bendis seamlessly blends Clark Kent and Superman with Superman trying to quotes and article fodder for Clark Kent in a way that doesn’t seem opportunistic, but that he really cares about the cause of this rash of electrical fires in Metropolis. Also, it demonstrates that Bendis has a steady command over all aspects of Superman’s life from his day job as a hero, his other day job as Clark Kent, and his home life towards the end. With jokes about Jon’s costume and light flirting and chatting about articles, Bendis has put his own twist on the Kents’ family life, which was the strength of previous Superman runs by Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and others. He gets Superman’s relationship dynamic, personality, and values; now all we need is a strong plot to go with it.

Even if the bad guy is a little underwhelming and the overarching narrative stumbles out of the gate, Man of Steel #1 proves that Brian Michael Bendis understands Superman/Clark Kent and how his commitment to truth and justice affects the dual aspects of his life. He even adds a little dry Midwest wit to the proceedings and gets out of the way to let Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair craft soaring splash pages and hellish planetscapes to set up a battle between good and evil.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Ivan Reis with Joe Prado, Jay Fabok
 Colors: Alex Sinclair Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review