This issue of Superman is the pay off to a months long promise of a slugfest between the Man of Steel and one of his oldest enemies. However, that is not the most interesting thing about the story. Rather it’s the quieter moments in the chaos that changes things forever.
Returning after its pandemic-induced hiatus, Superman wastes no times throwing us into an epic battle. Thankfully though, Brian Michael Bendis, Kevin Maguire, Alex Sinclair, and Dave Sharpe offer us so much more than that.
In low Earth orbit, Mongul has arrived. The only thing that stands between him and the destruction of Earth is a determined and angry Man of Steel. In Metropolis though, Lois Lane is paid a visit that will change everything for the Kent family, and perhaps the entire planet.
The best thing about Superman isn’t that he can punch things that other people would wilt at. It’s that he can change things with his words, and Bendis knows that. So while Superman and Mongul are pummeling each other (with great narration from Bendis), Lois has a chat with Cameron Chase.
It appears to be an enthralling chess game between two brilliant women and investigators at first, but Bendis twists and turns the conversation into one of the strongest interactions in this series to date. It’s not just about the inspiration that Superman is to the world, but also what the United Planets could be to Earth. I’ve heard a rumor that Bendis may be wrapping up his Superman run soon, but if he continues telling stories like this and the Action Comics issue from two weeks ago, I hope the rumor is untrue.
This issue is something else from Maguire. Usually he’s the talky or comedy artist, but a lot of people forget how good he is at drawing action. It reminds me a lot of Ed McGuiness’s take on the Man of Steel.
Superman is an intimidating presence, and Mongul even more so. The fight feels like it has genuine impact, which he gets across in his layouts and reactions just as much as he does in the action shots. Even better Maguire shows progress in the fight. Both characters are injured and damaged- clothes are ripped, wounds are made. It’s impressive work, and then you add in the confrontation between Lois and Chase, which is just as good, if more like the standard Maguire work.
I can’t wait for the consequences of this story, and with this creative team around for a bit, it’s going to be a fun ride.
Superman #22 is available now from DC Comics.