“The Unity Saga Part 4”
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Ivan Reis
Inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
The Story So Far:
Earth has been shunted into the Phantom Zone. Rogol Zaar and Jax-Ur, criminals placed in the Phantom Zone by Superman, are launching an attack on the Earth and Superman while the planet is at its most vulnerable. Meanwhile, what remains of the Justice League are trying to find a way to get Earth back out of the Phantom Zone…
Rogol Zaar and Jax-Ur attack! Superman fights them as Zaar taunts Superman. Zaar punishes Kal with mighty blows, and finishes with a punch that sends an unconscious Superman hurtling towards the earth’s surface.
As he lands, Clark is remembering a moment with his son, Jon. Jon is upset over an interaction with unseen aggressors, and is smashing cars in a junkyard (in a clever homage to Action Comics #1, Reis has him holding a green car over his head as his father once did). Superman explains to his son that even though he himself gets upset at people, given time, will do the right thing if you trust in them.
Meanwhile Clark battles Zaar still, hoping that the Justice League can find how to get the Earth out of the Phantom Zone. Superman challenges Jax-Ur, someone who wanted to save Krypton, asking him how he can ally himself with a person who wanted to wipe out all Kryptonians in Rogol Zaar. This gives Jax-Ur pause. Ray Palmer has the Flash run as fast as possible as he shrinks the Earth and Superman funnels Zaar’s army out of Earth’s atmosphere, and the Earth is hurtled out of the Phantom Zone, leaving Kal-El to face Rogol Zaar on his own.
Meanwhile Adam Strange, who has been waiting at the former site of the Earth for word on what’s going on, still waits, as, though the Earth has seemingly been sent out of the Phantom Zone…it is not back where it belongs.
The last three issues of buildup have been worth it. I’ve said that I’m liking Bendis’ Action run more than his Superman run, because it seems more down to earth, and it truly does. Those are my favorite Superman stories, when he is interacting with people on this planet, when he’s protecting his adopted homeworld. This issue gives us something else essential to Superman. His hope. He’s the eternal optimist, and his interaction with Jon epitomizes his outlook. He is hopeful that people will make the right choices, and his words to Jon are reflected in his interaction with Jax-Ur. I loved that parallel.
The art is perfect for this issue. Reis’ sequential storytelling is very good here, especially in the pages that intercut Superman’s conversation with Jon and his battle with Zaar.
What Doesn’t Work:
The end seemed a little rushed. It wasn’t quite clear what Flash’s role was, or that Superman was going to get the whole Zaar army off-planet before the Atom shrank it. There was a lot of “Bendisian” “Can you do this?” “Yeah, let’s do it” without a lot of explanation at the end of the issue.
Overall, a bit of an imbalanced issue, with some things that worked and some that didn’t. The buildup to the action was worth the wait, but the ending was a little rushed and, I think, suffered for it.