Friends and Lovers.
As Batman attempts to use Lois as bait in a hail-mary move, Superman must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to save his loved ones.
Greg Pak balances the different strokes pretty well, making sure that though the overall plot revolves around Superman, Batman and the rest of the cast are treated fairly.
There are some touching moments, and a really striking revelation near the end that could have worked better with more set-up.
About the artwork – Adrian Sarf continues to excel though his facial designs need more consistency.
As Superman laments at the fact that a normal man down on his luck but still managing to give a little light to children dressing up as Superman is now in a casket, yet he cannot attend, he tries to force the Kryptonian A.I. to help him.
Kara stops him just in time as a stressed out A.I., still recuperating from the damage done to it by Braniac in a previous attack, starts to crack open. She reminds him that this isn’t just his fight and the A.I. is the only thing that can help find her home, the lost city of Kandor, and best friend Tali.
Bruce meanwhile continues his plan involving Lois as bait and apparently using a channel secured by Zatanna’s magic, reveals things hard to believe – apparently Superman was having a private ‘affair’ with Lois!
Superman catches on that this is a ruse and Batman actually meant to alert the antagonist, but the tables are turned when Batman becomes the intended target. – surviving because of his kryptonite-laced armor.
And here we find that the ‘bullets’ we saw before were actually tiny Kandorians!
Now a history lesson. Kandor was the intellectual hub of Krypton, Superman’s home planet. It was renowned for its culture and technology.
Braniac, the collector of worlds, felt that Krypton’s demise necessitated the acquisition of its famed city as a ‘trophy’. Kara’s father, using similar schematics to Superman’s ship, sent her away moments before Braniac took them.
He then shrunk the city into a miniature model and kept it in one of his bottles. Recently, the bottle was lost after coming into Clark’s possession.
As Ray Palmer aka Atom aka Smart Guy uses Batman’s tracking mechanism to locate the source of the bullet, we see where Kandor has ended up – Iceland.
And it’s inhabitants look anything but happy, especially Kara’s ‘friend’ Tali.
I liked the twist at the end that it is Batman whom the killer targeted. He is truly, for better or worse, Clark’s best friend.
And Lois Lane’s ‘lies’ about the romance! Actual events that occurred in now non-canon continuities – the moon kiss (All-Star Superman), midnight flights (Superman the Movie and more) and so on….
Makes me miss their classic relationship.
What I won’t miss soon enough is Greg Pak’s ham-fisted parallels with the Joker. It didn’t work the first time, and isn’t working now. The dialogue feels awkward in those portions, and the story isn’t improved by it.
And I wonder – are the Kandorians acting on their own free will? Given the route change directly before the ‘bullet’ hit Superman’s hand makes me believe the Kandorian they recovered was actively targeting, and got killed by the kryptonian dosage he received when he came into contact with Bruce’s armor.
Are the Kandorians fed up with Superman’s inefficiency regarding their rescue, so they’re targeting the ones he loves? And is Tali leading the charge?
I would have liked more mention of Kandor last issue or before. Mentioning it and Tali at the beginning, and then the reveal at the end didn’t have the effect it would’ve if these had been subtly introduced before.
A visual delight, this comic is continuing to rise to its glory days after some bumps. Pak still needs to work on his dialogue, but his mixture of emotion and action hits the mark.
There are issues with this arc, but the good parts overcome those problems.
So, I give it 8.5 out of 10.
+Nice balancing of tone
+The focus is shared around as it should be
+The visual display
+Some heartfelt moments
-Dialogue still a little stiff, especially the ‘parallelisms’
-The reveal at the end could have been included in a better manner