Earth was on the brink of collapse. Rogol Zaar assembled an army of individuals coveting the chance to get a hand on the Man of Steel. Thankfully, those threats were mitigated as Ray Palmer shrunk the Earth itself, and Superman did everything in his power to defend Earth’s people from the wrath of Rogol Zaar. Now, though, in SUPERMAN #5, we have come to learn that those threats were only the beginning.

Rogol Zaar truly exemplifies the depths of evil. He revels in his plans to destroy everything Superman cares for. He also stops at nothing to enact those plans. As a result, he pushes Superman to his absolute limits, even leading the Man of Steel to question his heroic reluctance to kill his enemies.

So, maybe the world is ending and Superman is leading the charge.

superman #5
SUPERMAN #5 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

 

The Power of Three

SUPERMAN #5 commences with an intriguing vision from the mind of General Zod himself. He sees a New Krypton, one built on the alliance between the Houses of El, Zod, and Kandor. At the center of that alliance, however, is a partnership between Zod and Superman. However, right before the two reach an agreement, Zod’s vision turns violent as Rogol Zaar appears and obliterates everyone.

Zod abruptly awakens from his vision, expressing sorrow that its more positive parts are not his reality. Meanwhile, Superman continues his confrontation against Rogol Zaar. Interestingly, in the midst of it, he flies away, leading Rogol Zaar’s allies to believe Superman to be a coward. We come to learn that Superman did not flee the fight out of cowardice. Rather, he stopped himself from killing Rogol Zaar and his entire army. In this revelation, Superman provides us with a monologue exemplifying his inner struggle.

He is aware of the power he possesses. He is aware that he can eliminate the threat of Rogol Zaar in an instant, but that would betray who he has developed himself to be. It would compromise the symbol of hope Superman serves as. After regaining a level-headed, Superman returns to Rogol Zaar, who questions the Man of Steel’s reluctance to kill. Now, before Superman can provide a response, General Zod appears, vowing to do what Superman will not: kill Rogol Zaar.

superman #5
SUPERMAN #5 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Earth’s New Savior

SUPERMAN #5 still suffers from the series’ overarching problems. The issue’s pacing falters, particularly between Superman’s sequences and those of Adam Strange. Additionally, Rogol Zaar continues to be a one-dimensional villain. Sure, he is hellbent on destroying Superman and everything that matters to him.

However, that is pretty much all there is to Rogol Zaar in the context of this run. We do not get further insight into his motives or his deeper dispositions as a character. With that being said, however, the focus on Superman’s internal tug-of-war between maintaining his heroic disposition and maintaining a desire to kill his enemies is great.

We understand that though Superman is almighty and seems to have a great resolve in his morals, he is not always sure of himself, which humanizes him even more. Finally, General Zod’s role is another positive aspect of SUPERMAN #5. He serves as a great juxtaposition to Superman’s character as well as a character who keeps blindly, hopelessly chasing an impossible ambition.

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SUPERMAN #5 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Many Hues of SUPERMAN #5

Per usual, Ivan Reis’ pencils are incredible. Each and every panel encompasses its own world. There is absolutely no limit to the detail Reis implements throughout SUPERMAN #5, which ultimately brings the scale of the story to life. Personally, though, I find Alex Sinclair’s coloring to be the highlight of SUPERMAN #5’s imagery.

In the opening sequence, there is a great and abrupt transition between the vibrancy of Zod’s hope and the sudden destruction of that hope by the hand of Rogol Zaar. This transition is exemplified through the contrast of warm, lighter tones with deep red hues. Additionally, the sequences within the Phantom Zone are simply gorgeous. The blending of indigo and green tones captures the wonder and awe associated with space to a tee.

The artwork of SUPERMAN thus far has been incredibly solid, mainly because the imagery captures the scale of the narrative in addition to the depths of that narrative’s settings.

What Lies Beyond

SUPERMAN #5 and its predecessor have featured vast improvements in the run’s initial installments. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is not holding back in fleshing out our titular hero, to the point that we are learning some of his darkest thoughts. Of course, it would be nice to see more development from Rogol Zaar, who has played such a large role in the run so far. So, hopefully, upcoming issues will give us more characterization from him while also maintaining a balance in developing characters such as Superman himself and the vengeful General Zod.

SUPERMAN #5 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Alex Sinclair, & Josh Reed
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Summary
SUPERMAN #5 may struggle in its pacing and overarching plot development, but its centralization on Zod and Superman's dynamic is undoubtedly its best aspect.
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