SUPERMAN #30 BY KEITH CHAMPAGNE, ED BENES, TYLER KIRKHAM, and PHILIP TAN
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
SUPERMAN #30 is just the right boost in energy that this run needed. After a disappointing few issues, these last two comics in the "Fear Itself" arc have really knocked it out of the park. Here, Sinestro faces off with a Superman serving as the host for Parallax. The art is stunning, the story exciting, and writer Keith Champagne answers the question "What is Superman afraid of?"
90 %
Face Your Greatest Fears!
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SUPERMAN #29 ended with a huge cliffhanger as we saw the Man of Tomorrow become the host of the fear entity, Parallax. Yet, Sinestro, Green Lantern’s archenemy, has come to imprison Parallax inside of his yellow ring. So SUPERMAN #30 casts Kal-El between two indomitable forces who both seek to become the master of fear.

READ: Love everything about the Man of Steel? Here’s our review of the historically-charged SUPERMAN #28

A totally different team is behind this issue of SUPERMAN. It looks like Peter Tomasi is taking a brief hiatus from the title. While I will absolutely miss Peter Tomasi’s writing, Keith Champagne has done an awesome job with his take on the Man of Steel. Then the artistic team of Ed Benes, Tyler Kirkham, and Philip Tan draw spectacular panels in a unique style. This arc, “Fear Itself,” has been a fun departure from the main storyline by Tomasi as we get to see some new creatives’ vision on this title.

The Master of Fear

In the previous issue, Parallax had possessed young children in an attempt to lure Superman to his lair. Superman then surrendered himself to Parallax to ensure that the fear entity wouldn’t kill the kids. Yet, Sinestro, who recently suffered a stinging defeat by Hal Jordan, arrived on Earth just after Parallax possessed Superman. Sinestro is determined to recapture Parallax and to use its power over fear to rebuild his Sinestro Corps. To do so, however, Sinestro has to defeat a Parallax-infused Superman.

SUPERMAN #30
SUPERMAN #30 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Sinestro knows he can’t defeat Superman with raw power. So instead he transports him to the planet Qward in the anti-matter universe. There Superman is away from any yellow suns and Sinestro can keep Parallax isolated. Furthermore, Sinestro has gained control of the Weaponers of Qward, a group of warriors wielding beams of lightning. Together, they worked to tame Parallax.

READ: Find out how Sinestro lost the Sinestro Corps in HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #7!

What I love about Sinestro is how he’s a callous and cruel man with good intentions. Champagne understands that Sinestro isn’t a pure evil supervillain, but someone obsessed with control through fear. While Sinestro does want to protect the universe, he doesn’t really care about individuals. This makes him a starkly different character from Clark, who fights for the people that he loves.

Hope vs. Fear

One of the best things that SUPERMAN #30 does is showing the readers Superman’s fears. As the man who’s responsible for saving the entire planet on a nearly 24/7 basis, it’s not surprising that he has quite a few of them. This is why Parallax is able to manipulate and seize control over him. When a person has a lot of responsibility, that person is always afraid of failing.

SUPERMAN #30
SUPERMAN #30 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The artists beautifully depict visions of Superman’s worst fears in three haunting pages. We see images of Superman letting down millions of people crying: “Save us!” Another vision has the Justice League turning against Clark. Yet, while these are all things Superman dreads, his fears become much more personal and powerful when thinking about his son. Even for the strongest person in the world, parenthood brings a whole new set of responsibilities. Superman is terrified that he will fail his son, Jon; that somehow people will bully Jon for his powers or that Jon will be unable to control them, and that somehow it will be Clark’s fault.

READ: Speaking of Jon Kent, check out his exciting role in his new comic series, SUPER SONS!

To say the least, there are a lot of things that worry the Man of Steel. Yet, the reason Superman is such a great hero is because of his hopefulness. He’s always optimistic about the future. Yet having optimism for the future doesn’t mean that you don’t worry about it. It just means that you know how to overcome your fears. Superman worries about his son’s future and his own possible failures, but he learns how to overcome these fears and continue to have hope.

Art in SUPERMAN #30

Along with Peter Tomasi, artists Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason are also taking a break from SUPERMAN. Mahnke and Gleason brought their own sensibilities to the SUPERMAN series, which fit perfectly with Tomasi’s story of Jon Kent’s upbringing in Hamilton County. SUPERMAN #30 is more of an adventure piece focused on Superman’s battles rather than Jon Kent’s growth. That’s why the art in this issue is more refined and intense. It shows that this is a Clark Kent story. Artists Ed Benes, Tyler Kirkham, and Philip Tan draw enchanting visuals in the cosmic realm of Qward. I also love the image of Parallax as this glowing yellow squid-like monster. The artists don’t draw Parallax as something lame like gas clouds (although who would be stupid enough to do something like that).

SUPERMAN #30
SUPERMAN #30 page 8. Image courtesy of DC Entertianment.

Speaking of light, the artists do an amazing job illustrating the yellow light of fear throughout this comic. Whether it’s through Sinestro’s ring, Superman’s awesome Parallax-outfit, or even the Weaponers’ thunderbolts; Benes, Kirkham, and Tan sketch the color yellow in a unique, energetic way that makes it instantly stick out. This is probably most apparent in Superman’s fear visions as yellow beams shoot out of every corner of the page, depicting how the fear entity exists in all of our worst thoughts.

Final Thoughts

SUPERMAN #30 is a thrilling departure for this SUPERMAN run. Instead of focusing on Jon Kent, which much of Peter Tomasi’s run had done, this issue gives us the chance to see a new adventure for Superman himself. It’s really breathtaking and exciting as we watch Superman battle threats that usually the Green Lanterns would face. All in all, I hope that Keith Champagne gets the chance to work on SUPERMAN again, or at least to take on more material in Rebirth. So be sure to check out his fantastic work in SUPERMAN #30!

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