Written by Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason
Art by Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza and Will Quintana
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
With the return of the post-Crisis Man of Steel, one could argue that Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason have ushered in some of the best Superman stories of the the last five years. But with their fifth issue, they’re done one better - they’re delivered an action-packed and beautifully realized story featuring the entire Kent family.
With the Kryptonian superweapon known as the Eradicator hot on their tail, Superman takes Lois and Jon to a distinctly awesome new locale - namely, an orbital Batcave laboratory hidden on the dark side of the moon. While it’s obviously pure fan service for a Batman-hungry clientele, Tomasi, Gleason and artist Doug Mahnke are talented enough to pull it off, as Clark shields his wife and son for a swarm of robotic bat drones. “Got tired of [Batman] shadowing me… so I decided to shadow him a few times,” Clark says, in one of the issue’s best bits. “Ended up secretly trailing him here and discovered he’s been busy.”
As Tomasi and Gleason wind up paying off on Batman’s wonderful toys later on in the issue, you have to give the writers credit on effectively juggling all three of their lead characters. While we have said in the past that Lois Lane got a bit of short shrift against the father-and-son dynamic of Clark and Jon, she winds up stealing the show this issue, as Clark is drawn into the Eradicator, leaving the all-too-human Lois on her own to defend her fledgling superhero son. Tomasi and Gleason are able to tap into some fun Easter eggs from their previous run on Batman and Robin as Lois comes up with a smart way to distract the Eradicator, and having the two of them tag-team the unstoppable Eradicator goes a long way towards solidifying and justifying these members of Superman’s supporting cast. By the time that Clark comes up with his own clever way of escaping the Eradicator, you’ll know that this book was already in safe hands.
Speaking of safe hands, if there was anyone I’d have filling in for Pat Gleason on the art, Doug Mahnke would be at the top of that very, very short list. While Jaime Mendoza’s inks are just a tiny bit overrendered for my tastes, having just one inker on the book means there’s a visual consistency that only enhances Mahnke’s game - and with the kind of slugfest that Tomasi and Gleason are writing here, it’s best to step out of the way and let Mahnke do what he does best. I love the different styles of body language he gives his various characters, based primarily on their size and level of experience - Superman, for example, leads with his fists and his elbows, while the much-smaller Jon leaps and twists in the air, his feet snapping wildly as he’s tossed around by the Eradicator, who looms and poses and crackles with energy reminiscent of Howard Porter’s style.
Typically with fight-heavy comic books like this, it’s easy to get bored, but Tomasi, Gleason and Mahnke do some exceptional work to not just change up the locale, but to also make a real effort to make this comic a true family affair. Superman #5 is a highlight in what’s already been a real highlight for the DC publishing line as a whole - while I don’t know if Tomasi, Gleason and Mahnke can maintain this standard of juggling for all three main characters, they’ve set the bar very high for future installments.