Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Sean Lewis (backup)
Art: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Hi-Fi, Dave Sharpe, and Sami Basri (backup)
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 9th, 2021
Jumping from FUTURE STATE back to the DC present, Phillip Kennedy Johnson takes readers on his first installment with a two-part story that connects both SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. As a new tremendous threat from space begins its assault against the Man of Steel, Jonathan Kent must come to terms with his father’s legacy and what he stands for. Remember, SUPERMAN has died before and he could once again. So, if that happens, could Jonathan truly be that pillar of hope his father has been for so long? Let’s fly into SUPERMAN #29 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson as he kicks off his run as lead writer on DC’s SUPERMAN titles.
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During FUTURE STATE, I became enthralled with Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s take on SUPERMAN. It was a genuine, classic take that’s been missing from our Man of Steel for the past few years. Everyone had their own, weird, futuristic twists and newly found design, as well as characters that, for the most part, ventured away from who SUPERMAN really was and has been. However, in PKJ’s short time on the character, he’s returned him to his roots with a passion for the character I haven’t seen in years. So, needless to say, I was excited for SUPERMAN #29.
Flash forward to this current issue and my hopes were… not quite transferred over as I thought they would be. The focus of the issue was on a son’s thought process of their father. And, dare I say, this element is true for all father figures regardless of their own attributes and abilities. Oftentimes, fathers forget that they’re all unstoppable forces of strength to their children. And, in the case of Jonathan, it’s 100% true. However, as your child grows and matures, reality sinks in. So, for those that forgot, Jonathan Kent was basically (long story short) aged up. So, the glassy-eyed boy is no more. Therefore, he can see his father more for who he truly is, as well as his faults and mortality.
In the circumstances within the issue, something is weakening SUPERMAN and Jonathan is noticing this dilemma more than his dear old Dad. Jonathan actually begins to insinuate that his father very well could “die” within these current events, which I wish wasn’t even referenced within the issue. Readers who have read FUTURE STATE know that Clark is alive and thus that written future has him in present. Even if that FUTURE STATE appears to be another/ alternate Earth, playing at SUPERMAN’S death in a small two-part story seems trivial, unproductive, and takes the flare out of the concept for future stories. Thus, I would have stirred clear of that idea. And lastly, the ending was rather confusing. Did Clark disappear into a breach or not? So, what appeared to branch off in a new direction has appeared to stall out as one issue opens in current continuity.
The biggest hindrance to this entire issue was actually the illustrations by Phil Hester. If I didn’t know any better, I would say Hester purposefully doesn’t like to draw characters’ eyes. The number of pages where the character’s eyes were closed, covered, or squinting was astounding. Additionally, the action sequences with SUPERMAN and the placement of his legs in proximity to his body were completely disproportional. Furthermore, the coloring by Eric Gapstur was extremely dark instead of using more of a shadowy textured appearance.
Maybe I’m simply comparing the art too much to the FUTURE STATE books, which were so realistic and phenomenal. However, it’s the art that makes or breaks an issue. It’s the art that takes an average story and elevates it. From the action sequences to simple conversations, a great art team ushers the reader through a story. And this anecdote felt clunky and cold, which is totally opposite to what I felt from the FUTURE STATE issue.
I know it’s still incredibly early to make a definitive call on this run after one issue. Nevertheless, the story and art were nothing like I anticipated from what I’ve already read in FUTURE STATE. I was expecting more hope, more ambition, more passion, more excitement, and simply more SUPERMAN than what we received this issue. Sure, SUPERMAN was “physically” there but it felt like in appearance alone.
Overall, this issue was flat and the illustrations were too cartoony for my taste. That said, I’m not giving up on this series of PKJ’s run by any stretch. One issue is way too early to write a creative team off. However, this opening installment wasn’t anything like what readers saw from PKJ in FUTURE STATE. And if you’re like me and that’s what drew you into this issue, I think you’ll be a bit disappointed. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God bless!
Dig into our other Comic Book Dispatch Reviews HERE or grab another perspective from Weird Science Marvel Comics HERE. And, if you’re curious as to what’s arriving in comic shops each week, check out our Comic Book Dispatch Previews HERE
If you’d like to get your hands on SUPERMAN #29, click HERE to grab a copy! If you’re interested in ACTION COMICS or SUPERMAN by Bendis, click HERE to get some great deals on related issues and trades. Additionally, if you’re interested in Brian Michael Bendis’ past work, make sure to click HERE as well. And finally, if you’re looking for something else to read, check out my Amazon Online Comic Shop by clicking HERE. Thank you all for the read and continued support. Stay safe and stay healthy.