Bendis Rebuilds the Man of Steel | Review
Superman has always been the pioneer of the superhero world. Eighty years after its first publication, Action Comics is the first comic book to reach issue #1000. And while Action #1000 was a celebration of all thing Superman all eyes were on what would come next.
Surprisingly, what came next was not Action Comics #1001. That book will hit shelves later this month. For the last six weeks, DC has taken a break from Action Comics and Superman to make room for a weekly event series titled Man of Steel. But more surprising than the title Man of Steel or the upcoming #1001 is the name on both those books: Brian Michael Bendis.
Bendis is a comics legend. He is the creator of characters like Miles Morales and Jessica Jones. He had a nine-year run on Ultimate Spider-Man and a five year run on Avengers. And he wrote Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron, and House of M. He could stop writing tomorrow and go down in history as one of the most influential comics writers of the 21st century. But he's made that mark entirely within the Marvel Universe.
Now Bendis is writing Superman at a turning point in the character's history. And Man of Steel is a definite turning point for the character. The prelude to Bendis' run on Action Comics does everything possible to bring Superman back to his origin while also embracing the changes the hero has gone through in the last few years.
Reforging the Man of Steel
Man of Steel is about bringing Superman back into alignment with a more classic take on the character. On a superficial level, Big Blue is getting back to basics. He even pulls on his red briefs back on for a more traditional look. But on a more substantive level, the series does a lot of work to position the character into a more classic role.
Before DC Rebirth in May 2016, Superman was a new man. Quite literally he was a character from the New 52 continuity. But when the New 52 Superman died, the classic DC Superman replaced him. That Superman brought a wife (Lois) and son (Jonathan) that made him different. Add to his family his cousin Kara, estranged father Jor-El, and the Bottled City of Kandor, and Kal-El is far from the last son of Krypton.
The most important thing to Bendis in this story is putting distance between Superman and these support systems he's built. By prying into some unexplored facets of the character's origins and the destruction of Krypton, Bendis can redefine Superman for his own story.
Unfortunately, that story feels much more like a prelude than a story itself. The main villain is a Bendis original, and his background is exciting. But the B-plot is left dangling to tease readers into Action Comics. And a mystery that runs through the book ends up being a head-fake with far lower stakes than it seemed.
Man of Steel is an exciting book. And seeing Brian Michael Bendis' name on the cover of a DC book is incredible. It would have been better to see Man of Steel as less of a prelude and more of a book that can stand alone. But the book is a prelude to something that seems great. And it is worth picking up to see where the story goes next.