Superman and Supergirl finally get some hits in on the mysterious Rogol Zaar in Man of Steel #4. Is it good?
The opening page of Man of Steel #4 – an extreme close-up of Superman’s eye as Rogol Zaar charges at him – grabs the reader instantly. Kevin Maguire’s detailed linework, between the individual eyelashes, or Rogol Zaar’s menacing roar that encapsulates the pupil of Kal’s eye grabs the attention. Alex Sinclair’s colors contrast Superman’s blue eyes with the fiery rage of Zaar. Letterer Josh Reed’s captions slowly drawing the reader inward toward’s Zaar. It’s not just a striking image however, as it encapsulates the driving plot of the issue. Superman is analyzing Zaar, trying best to assess the situation.
Picking up immediately after the previous issue, Man of Steel #4 sees Superman and Supergirl try to take down Rogol Zaar. This is an action packed issue, and writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Kevin Maguire do a fantastic job pacing out the panels and making the story work. This is perhaps best demonstrated in an early page where Superman saves a woman falling from a building and jumps back into the fray to punch Zaar. The panels of each of these scenes take place just moments apart – we see two closeups of the woman as she falls only for Superman’s extended hand to appear in the next panel. But the panel that actually constitutes the transition between the saving and the punching is narrow, vertical panel, with Superman just exiting the top right corner. This helps convey his speed and contrasts nicely with the “slow-mo” effect achieved by the framing of the next three panels.
This pacing extends to the rest of the issue. While Man of Steel #4 largely feels like a “fight” issue, there’s still a good chunk of story here. Jason Fabok still contributes only two pages, but the information revealed makes the section feel much more relevant to the main story than it has in the previous issues. These pages also act as a nice pivot as Bendis and Maguire shift from a more direct action sequence to a more emotionally driven one as Superman mulls over Zaar’s stated goal. It’s a clever move that adds more substance to the issue.
Perhaps it’s wrong to be waiting for the shoe to drop regarding Zaar’s motivation, but his actions here and the way Bendis has paced the reveals of information throughout the series suggest that there’s more to him. In that way, the cogs of the story are perhaps a little more visible, but even if that presumption is correct, the story is still well executed here.
Is It Good?
Man of Steel #4 feels like the most focused issue of the series and that really aids the overall story. Brian Michael Bendis and Kevin Maguire balance the story nicely between Superman’s internal study of Rogol Zaar and his simultaneous combat with him. The pacing and layout of the pages really captures the to and fro of not only the action, but Superman’s mind.