By: Adam Basciano
“The story arc kicking off the SEASON PREMIERE EVENT concludes! CHLOE and OLIVER make a shocking discovery as they come face-to-face with the sole survivor of the crash. More machine than man, an out-of-control HENSHAW must be stopped – this looks like a job for SUPERMAN!” (DC Comics)
The season premiere is finally over and despite it dragging in places, the final act was definitely worth the wait. Up to this point I had been enjoying this season premiere, even though part of me felt that it wasn’t going to end up as good as some of the ones on t.v. Thanks to these last issues, this premiere ranks among some of the best of the series. The main reason, this issues is jam-packed with heart. I’ve never really gravitated towards the Cyborg Superman of the mainstream continuity. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t had a worthwhile story since “Reign of the Superman.” Or maybe it’s because aesthetically he looks like the lovechild of the Superman and Terminator film franchises. Whatever it is, he hasn’t clicked with me. This version however, absolutely clicked with me. I can feel his emotions. I understand his anger towards Lex Luthor and Superman for his current situation. I sympathize with his frustration, at not being able to express his emotions . The writer has really managed to humanize this man turned machine effectively.
The dialogue written for Superman is fantastic in this issue. When he tells Henshaw that he can’t save everyone, the fact that the thought keeps him up at night, but he keep trying to make that a reality; that’s powerful stuff. Words like that have me believing that Bryan Q. Miller completely gets Superman, “Smallville” version or otherwise. Lex Luthor using the shuttle explosion as a means to “paint” Superman with radiation, so that satellites can track his every movement leaves Superman paralyzed. Not in a physical sense, but mentally and emotionally. Superman can’t continue his “normal” life with Lois because otherwise, Lex and God knows who else, would know that Clark Kent is Superman. The exchange with Lois and Clark at the end of issue twelve, while Superman listens from above earth’s orbit, had me on the verge of tears. I won’t spoil the surprise of who the mystery traveler is, but their identity, place of origin, and words of warning, were a complete shocker for me.
I really liked the different visual aesthetic to Hank Henshaw a.ka Cyborg Superman. This may be hypocritical of me, but while i dislike mainstream Cyborg Superman for looking like a Superman infused Terminator knockoff, I like this version for its similar look to the robots of the film “I Robot.” There’s a fantastic exterior shot of the Metropolis skyline, from The Daily Planet’s point of view. I absolutely love this books versions of Superman hovering above the earth. It’s a reminder of how small this larger than life superhero is, in comparison to the world he protects. My one problem with the art is consistency. Earlier on in the premiere, there were times that Clark/Superman looked like Tom Welling. Other times he looked like a pre-teen Superboy. This fluctuation seemed to disappear for a while but it’s back in these 3 issues quite a bit, and it irk’s me.
At the end of a 12 issue season premiere, I’m comfortable in saying this season 11 premier ranks as one of my favourite premieres of the series. It has action, emotion, character developement, and an ending that leaves you waiting for the next episode.
Overall Episode Grade: 8.5/10