What could tempt Kryptonian criminal General Zod to reenter the Phantom Zone after years of imprisonment? As Superman tries to free himself from the Kryptonian jail and fight off the monster who destroyed Krypton, Zod returns to face Rogol Zaar and get vengeance for his dead world and its lost potential.
After Superman was stranded in the Phantom Zone in an attempt to rescue the planet Earth, we find the Man of Steel in a desperate place and seeking justification for his growing rage at the destroyer of Krypton. This comes after a brilliant sequence involving Zod, however, who is receiving visions of a united Krypton thanks to a spirit drink he has been consuming. In his visions, Zod bears witness to the House of El, the House of Zod and the House of Kandor all united as one people, and it gives him hope. This sets up Zod’s search for Earth and Superman incredibly well, giving an interesting motive for peace to one of Superman’s most notorious villains.
But meanwhile, Superman is still lost in the Phantom Zone and facing a legion of Rogol Zaar’s army. Feeling defeated, Supes seemingly abandons the fight and soars away. While we all know the fight is far from over, this was a moment of insecurity from the Man of Steel that was uniquely interesting. The success of this sequence doesn’t become obvious until Supes is far from Rogol Zaar though.
We find him alone, contemplating the many consequences he’s endured simply because he won’t unleash the full potential of his powers. Just as his eyes turn red and his rage starts to grow to dangerous levels, he sees Ma and Pa Kent, standing in front of their farm. With a bit of classic advice from his parents, Superman calms down and thinks his way through the situation. It’s easily one of the best moments for the character since Bendis took over, and helps to show what drives him even when stranded in a place like the Phantom Zone.
The emotional chords throughout this issue help to make it something truly special. From Zod’s desire for a united Kyrpton to Superman’s willingness to do whatever is necessary to protect Earth, Bendis is able to instill incredible depths of emotion in each character and clearly convey both their intentions and motives for each action.
The story continues with both an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ plot after introducing Zod and his visions. We follow Superman’s struggle against Rogol Zaar in the Phantom Zone simultaneously alongside Zod’s quest to find Earth. While we may figure out early on that Zod is seeking to save Supes in order to bring his vision into fruition, the discovery of a shrunken Earth provides exactly the type of mystery this issue needed. Within moments the Earth grows exponentially and Zod is demanding Ray to hit him with the Phantom Projector they had just used. It’s a chaotic moment that contributes excellently to the issue’s pacing, creating both heightened anticipation and tension right before the story swaps back to focusing on Supes reunion with Rogol Zaar.
These dual plot lines explode, literally, together with the arrival of Zod into the Phantom Zone. The timing of this is deeply satisfying after the pages leading up to it have done so well building the anticipation. Rogol Zaar begins monologuing, just as any quality villain should, and its at this point readers know something big is coming. Superman’s peace of mind shown that came from understanding his role in the situation is perfectly suited to the character, but it will surely be interesting to see how he reacts to Zod’s presence.
The artistic direction in Superman #5 from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Alex Sinclair delivers one of the most spectacular issues yet visually. Zod’s vision of a united Krypton is noticeably celebratory when compared to the dire situation happening in the Phantom Zone. The contrast these visuals create between Zod’s plot line and Superman’s contributes to the story itself and makes their eventual clash even more epic. Although the word “epic” can be casually thrown around often in comic books, ‘The Unity Saga’ arc defines the meaning of the word with an expansive story and grand visuals.
Superman #5 shows why Bendis is the right person to take on such a prolific character like Supes. It has nearly everything you could want in a comic about the Man of Steel. Heart, heroics, mystery and tragedy all blend perfectly with an action-packed narrative that sets up an even more expansive story coming up. This is a definitive Superman story that shouldn’t be missed!
Superman #5 delivers a definitive story about the Man of Steel, seeing him stripped of the support from his friends and family, forced to delve into what truly pushes him to be humanity’s savior. This is one that any fan should absolutely not miss!
Superman #5: A New Krypton
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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