As Superman fights to protect the world from Rogol Zaar and the Kryptonian convicts trapped inside the Phantom Zone, the greatest minds on Earth devise a risky plan to return the planet from the deadly prison. With the Earth continuing to crack and crumble and its greatest heroes fall, can the Man of Steel hold the line and give his adopted world a chance to escape?
The battle for Earth is finally upon Superman and the still struggling Justice League in part four of Bendis and Reis’s ‘Unity Saga’ arc. There has been a lot of momentum going into this issue, with the Man of Steel and Superman series both hyping the coming battle between Rogol Zaar and Superman. They have had time to prepare, and their ensuing fight is large-scale and epic, with particularly beautiful illustrations from Ivan Reis.
Superman’s struggle to fight against Rogol Zaar is similar to his struggle with Doomsday in that it doesn’t really do any good to punch him. This lesson is driven home through the use of a flashback with his son Jon, where the two are talking candidly about their desires to solve problems with violence. It is an excellent display of Brian Michael Bendis’s narrative ability and also his understanding of the character. The humor is spot on, but more importantly, the heart of the issue is found within the values of Superman. Bendis knows what makes the character inspirational, and he touches on these aspects incredibly well through the interplay of Superman’s battle with Rogol Zaar and his talk with Superboy.
The creative team behind the Superman series has been impressive from issue #1, but they seem to have hit their stride in this war for Earth in the Phantom Zone. With noticeably great lettering from Josh Reed and colors that continue to give the story a distinct brilliance, issue #4 continues to show that the series is one of the best visual spectacles currently on shelves.
Superman #4 has raw large-scale fights, heartfelt dialogue and even an interesting cliffhanger featuring Adam Strange reporting Earth as missing, setting up next issue’s storyline. The Atom’s clever idea to shrink the Earth and transport it out of the Phantom Zone seems to have gone wrong in some way, but it also stranded Superman in the process. It seems he is locked in an eternal battle with Rogol Zaar now, as the two continue their deathly battle even as the issue closes.
This issue essentially has everything you could want in a Superman comic, and it’s a great example of what Bendis brings to the table. This is a timeless interpretation of the character showing why he is Earth’s Superman in one of the most desolate and dangerous places imaginable.
Superman #4 is a heartfelt and action-packed issue that showcases the creative talent behind this spectacular series. Bendis delivers one of his strongest stories yet, using the merits of violence to uniquely explore the character’s values and behaviors.
Superman #4: Herding Cats
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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