Sunday, February 14, 2010

Comic Book Review: Superman #696

Book Information
Written by James Robinson
Art by Bernard Chang

Things are beginning to make sense as the mystery revolving around Zod’s sleeper agent begins its path towards successfully concluding.  Nightwing, Flamebird, and Mon-El, after freeing themselves from a pile of rubble, and avoiding a confrontation with General Lane, fly out in search for Zod’s phantom player.  But what they find instead is so much more devastating.

My Thoughts
James Robinson!  You continually amaze me at your inconsistent story telling abilities!  You’re up, then you’re down, then you’re up again, then back down.  I can’t make up my mind about you!  I think I’m going to give up and say that you have more talent coming out of your pinky than most other writers, but sometimes that talent gets stuck there.  This issue was fantastic in comparison to your past recent work.  I’ve despised the Superman title almost the whole way through since you came on board, but every once in a while you’ll produce a gem that entices me to read on with anticipation.

The story is slow to the punch and doesn’t contain much substance, but fits in nicely with the book in and of itself.  The first half spends most of it’s time with Flamebird and Nightwing flying away from Lane’s army while the second half exposes Mon-El’s chest hair as he tears the General a new hole.  It was a great bit of dialogue that was nice to see come out of Mon-El’s mouth.  I was wondering when he was truly going to live up to the Superman legacy and put evil men in their place.  There were moments where it even felt as if Mon-El was in fact Kal-El, but that is probably more to the improved talents of Bernard Chang on art.

With the Improvement that Robinson displayed with his writing in this issue, Chang did that, plus more with his art.  It seems he has thrown out his timid, babyish art style and adopted a much more rough and messy artistic direction, much like Superman: The Man of Steel had in its first few years of publication.  One exceptionally breathtaking example of this artistic change is the two paged spread where Mon-El pushes himself out from underneath the fallen rock from a smoking hole punched through the side of a building.  The muscle definition in Mon-El’s figure, and the posture in which Chang positioned him, and the brilliant use of color is gorgeous.  Along with that, every face, body, and detail with the surrounding building wreckage is flawless.  Bernard Chang has given himself a definite boost in the comic book world with this issue.

While being James Robinson’s best piece of work in a while, the issue still lacks something.  However, with the spectacular art and the pleasant change in writing quality, this issue definitely qualifies as one of the better comics for the month of January.

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming February 24, 2010
"Man of Valor" Part 4! With the Legion of Super-Hero members in the 21st century now revealed to Mon-El, the Man of Valor learns of a greater destiny he and Superboy share; one that ties directly in to the fate of New Krypton and Kal-El! 

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