Superman works to save Earth from the Phantom Zone. Meanwhile, one of the Phantom Zone’s newest residents – Rogol Zaar, makes plans of his own. Is Superman #2 good?
Superman #2 begins with a flashback to a war between the Thanagarians and Tamaranean people. The Tamaranean King Myand’r begins a heroic charge into battle before the leader of the opposing force is revealed as Rogol Zaar.
It’s a rousing opening. Penciler Ivan Reis and inker Oclair Albert create an epic standoff in just a few quick pages, and writer Brian Michael Bendis effectively sells Zaar’s menace with the dialogue between King Myand’r and his subjects.
Bendis gets a pretty good transition into the main section of the book as readers get to see Superman charging into a battle of his own, chasing emergency after emergency. Bendis contrasts these scenes with Superman’s thoughts, which explain just how he is able to maintain hope. In these caption boxes, Bendis nails the almost-but-not-quite-preachy nature of Superman’s voice, the optimism that at times seems corny, but never obnoxiously or ignorantly so. Bendis also effectively captures the voices of the various Justice League members in a very brief scene. In particular, the back-and-forth between Flash and Batman shines.
But, as the intro foreshadowed, Superman #2 isn’t just about Kal-el. As Superman and the Justice League try to tackle the problem of the Earth being in the Phantom Zone, Rogol Zaar is making his own journey through the horrifying dimension.
Zaar’s thought captions are succinct and focused – a sharp contrast to Superman’s journalistic verbosity. While Bendis doesn’t reveal much of Zaar’s backstory here, he does reinforce the zealous nature of the warlord. Some readers may find this frustrating – we arguably know as much about Zaar (and his lack of a personality) as we did in the first few issues of Man of Steel, but Bendis’ choice to give Zaar’s thoughts page-space at all suggests that more information is coming.
Visually, Zaar’s pages are subtly different in style than Superman’s. Part of this is definitely the use of inker Oclair Albert, whose style gives Reis’ pencil work a grittier feel than Joe Prado’s. But the staging and coloring of the pages also changes, with Zaar’s section of the issue appearing more chaotic with its framing. Alex Sinclair’s use of greens and grays give Zaar’s journey a more sickly feel than Superman’s pages.
Is It Good?
Superman #2 is a solid issue with excellent artwork by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair, and Oclair Albert, along with some nice character examination with both Superman and Zaar. At first glance, the plot doesn’t seem to be advancing that quickly, but Bendis subtly weaves in new developments while simultaneously giving time for the events to breathe.
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