Review: Superman #25

Kyle King Kyle King
Expert Contributor
June 24th, 2017

T. Kyle King is a lawyer, a former sports blogger, a panelist on the "Twin Peaks"-centric "Wrapped in Podcast", and a Superman guy.

Review: Superman #25
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Review of: Superman #25
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Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On June 24, 2017
Last modified:June 24, 2017

Summary:

Despite a scattering of nice moments, the concluding chapter of the Manchester Black storyline was a messy patchwork of inexplicable motivations, mishandled characters, and narrative conceits.

Review of: Superman #25
Price:
Jumbled

Reviewed by:
Rating:

2
On June 24, 2017
Last modified:June 24, 2017

Summary:

Despite a scattering of nice moments, the concluding chapter of the Manchester Black storyline was a messy patchwork of inexplicable motivations, mishandled characters, and narrative conceits.

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Superman #25 concluded the Black Dawn story arc with a sixth and final chapter entitled Fade to Black. The oversized issue was co-authored by Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi, with pencils by Doug Mahnke and Gleason. ComiConverse’s Krypton-centric contributor, T. Kyle King, brings you his review of the dramatic finale.

(Warning: Spoilers follow!)

Superman #25 Review:

Manchester Black has Jonathan Kent in thrall. When the villain sends Superboy and the Super Elite against Superman — who is backed up by Batman, Robin, Frankenstein, and the Bride — will the father or the son prevail?

Superman #25 Synopsis:

Black turns Superboy loose against his father, giving Jon the uninhibited use of his full powers. Frankenstein and the Bride take the fight to Manchester and the Elite while Batman and Robin aid Superman in containing the unleashed youth. The Man of Steel leads the boy away from the melee in a flight to the top of the burning doom tree, but, when a part of the flaming oak plummets down toward innocent citizens below, Jonathan insists on saving the people to show his own strength.

The unstable quantum reactor of the concealed ship, on the verge of collapsing entirely, begins “throwing out arcs of space-time”, one of which allows Superboy to peer into the alternate worlds of the multiverse. Jonathan then ruthlessly turns on Black, but his brutal assault is interrupted when Lois Lane appears and shows her son she is all right: Manchester Black created the illusion that she had been injured. Kathy Branden grabs Jon’s hand and, taking advantage of the lad’s link with Manchester, renders the villain inert with telepathic feedback. Superman allows the apologetic Super Elite to rebuild Hamilton County and guard the rift, the Kents make plans to move to Metropolis, and Manchester Black’s consciousness appears to emerge in the body of the Cobbs’ dairy cow.

Story continues below

Superman #25 Analysis:

Fade to Black has an ample amount of cool moments. The thematic chromatic aesthetic is underscored not just by the presence of Goth Superboy but also by the existence of black, rather than white, backgrounds behind the panel borders. The page-turn reveal of the physically whole Lois — whose dismemberment, as predicted, was only an illusion — was preceded by her maternal exclamation of her son’s full name. As the story nears nears its close, Clark Kent wistfully reflects that Hamilton will always be for Jonathan what Smallville was for him. These are just some of a number of nice touches for which Superman #25 deserves praise.

Unfortunately, the last chapter of Black Dawn also has more than its fair share of severe problems. Even with extra pages, the story has too many characters to make good use of them all. Furthermore, the fact that the fridging was fictitious was hardly redemptive, particularly when Frankenstein suffered a succession of dismemberments. Mahkne’s energetic action sequences and Gleason’s softer personal moments each are effective on their own, but the stylistic shift in the midst of the clash with Manchester Black disrupted the visual flow of the tale. The biggest problem with Superman #25, though, is the simple truth that Fade to Black is a narrative mess.

Cobb and Kathy Branden, after having been quite sinister in their menacing manipulation of the Kent family, shift allegiances with stunning suddenness, resulting in a degree of forgiveness that is not so much kindhearted as dangerously naive. Superman likewise is befuddlingly gullible in trusting the Elite, whose change of heart conveniently coincided with the absolute defeat of their leader moments before, but who evidently may be relied upon to safeguard a dimensional rift otherwise left unattended. Jon’s loyalties and values seem equally transient, both before and after the random intrusion of the deus ex machina of the quantum reactor exposed him to the multiverse almost as an afterthought, and the coda of Superman #25 is yet another county fair, which apparently happen every other week in Hamilton County.

So much of Black Dawn — Chapter 6 fails to follow logically from page to page that some of the comic’s best moments get buried under burning doom tree branches, flying Frankenstein limbs, and dimensional rift rivulets. The concluding sequence strongly suggesting that Manchester Black’s consciousness has been transferred into the Cobbs’ cow recalls Hellcow — hardly the first Howard the Duck allusion to appear in the storyline. Also, the energy that flows from the quantum reactor into Superboy and is then unleashed against the villain all has a distinctive light blue tint; what forthcoming clash do you suppose that foreshadows?

Superman #25 ended well, but that doesn’t mean that all’s well with this troubled, convoluted conclusion to the Black Dawn arc. We invite you to offer your thoughts in the comments and ComiConverse with us about Fade to Black.

T. Kyle King is an Expert Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.

Superman #25

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Despite a scattering of nice moments, the concluding chapter of the Manchester Black storyline was a messy patchwork of inexplicable motivations, mishandled characters, and narrative conceits.

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One Comment

  1. sweattshop says:

    Damn! That was a hard page to draw. Intense action!

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