Previously in SUPERMAN, our titular hero discovered that his beloved Earth was within the perilous and notorious Phantom Zone. As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, Rogol Zaar is currently among the Phantom Zone’s residents, spending SUPERMAN #2 plotting his revenge on the Kryptonian who trapped him there.

Brian Michael Bendis returns as SUPERMAN’s writer as he continues his focus on the characterization of the Man of Steel. In the series thus far, Superman has been displaced from his comfort zone. His wife and son have gone on their own journey. So, everything Superman has faced in the series thus far, he has faced on his own. As a result, the journey that lies ahead for the Man of Steel is no easy one, particularly when old enemies are out for blood.

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SUPERMAN #2 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The End Of Days

As aforementioned, the majority of SUPERMAN #2 centralizes on Superman’s characterization. In fact, Bendis juxtaposes Superman’s introspection with that of Rogol Zaar, presenting two distinct perspectives on the path of Earth’s demise. In regard to Superman’s narration, he ponders the current state of the world. He acknowledges the fact that he always maintains a choice in whether or not to shut himself off from the world and its cries for help. He acknowledges that his super-hearing serves as a constant reminder of the world’s tragedies.

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However, in true Superman fashion, he remains optimistic in spite of the tragedy because he knows that there are still good people who wish to help those in need, even if they don’t have any superpowers. Interestingly though, in the midst of his optimism, Superman does have his doubts.

Earth’s current placement in the Phantom Zone has begun to block the rays of the yellow sun. Thus, it is only a matter of time before Superman becomes powerless, which could not have taken place at a worse time.

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SUPERMAN #2 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Two Diverted Paths

At this point, the narrative switches over to Rogol Zaar’s perspective. In true villainous fashion, he is plotting his revenge on the Man of Steel, hoping to take Earth as his own.

So, overall, SUPERMAN #2 finds its strength in Bendis’ portrayal of the hero and villain of this saga. As presented in the previous issue, Bendis highlights Superman’s vulnerabilities in spite of his powers, which provides readers with a complex and detailed image of the Man of Steel.

However, there is still not much movement in the plot. There are hints scattered throughout the narrative as to where the story is going. Ultimately though, the plot remains static. Yes, the in-depth characterization is great to include, but I do wish there was more happening around our characters. I would like to see them apply their developments into their settings, presenting a more dynamic adventure.

So, I hope upcoming issues give us more traction in the inevitable confrontation between Superman and Rogol Zaar as well as Earth’s impending demise.

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SUPERMAN #2 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of SUPERMAN #2

Penciller Ivan Reis, as well as, inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert absolutely excel in their work on large-scale images. The panels featuring the Tamaraneans in battle is absolutely gorgeous. Colorist Alex Sinclair bolsters those panels with his vibrant array of colors. I also love the image of Superman hovering above Earth, surrounded by the world of the Phantom Zone.

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Ultimately, the greatest aspect of SUPERMAN #2’s artwork lies in its detail. In spite of the chaos that occurs throughout its pages, the artists never lose their attention to detail. Each and every image that takes place within the Phantom Zone is absolutely dynamic. As a result, readers get a grasp of the world Superman is striving to fight.

Now, perhaps the most poignant sequence of the issue’s artwork is when Rogol Zaar sees Superman in the Phantom Zone. It is quite the cinematic image as the two enemies notice each other from afar. Though it is a brief moment, it sets up their inevitable conflict wonderfully, putting us on the edge of our seats.

Thus, the art of SUPERMAN #2 is full of much-needed energy and vibrancy, truly bringing the horrors, and beauty, of the Phantom Zone to life.

What Lies Beyond

Though SUPERMAN #2 is not the strongest work, it finds its potential in various aspects. Firstly, the artwork is absolutely exceptional. It gives life to a plot that does not have to maintain energy to stand on its own. Also, Bendis presents some engaging vignettes of Superman and Rogol Zaar’s personal motivations, motivations that set them vastly apart.

So, it will be interesting to see how the Man of Steel’s journey unfolds as he faces the possibility of becoming powerless in a setting he remains quite alone in. Hopefully, upcoming issues will progress the plot at a faster pace so that readers can truly engage with the grand scale that this work has the potential to exemplify.

SUPERMAN #2 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Alex Sinclair, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Josh Reed
SUPERMAN #2 excels in its characterization of Superman. However, it's static plot makes for a narrative that moves all too slowly.
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