T. Kyle King is a lawyer, a former sports blogger, a panelist on the "Twin Peaks"-centric "Wrapped in Podcast", and a Superman guy.
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Superman #26 featured a brief break following the events of Black Dawn. Writer Michael Moreci and artist Scott Godlewski teamed up to bring readers the father-son tale Brains vs. Brawn, which highlighted the relationship between Clark Kent and both Jonathan Kents. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to review the most recent issue.
Superman #26 Review:
The Man of Steel recalls his own childhood in Smallville as he struggles to provide guidance to Superboy. Will the Last Son of Krypton succeed in sharing some essential lessons before a pair of deadly supervillains level Hamilton County?
Superman #26 Synopsis:
Superboy’s impulsivity in the midst of a clash with a gaggle of attacking drones makes the Action Ace consider how to instruct the lad in good judgment and the judicious use of force. Clark discusses his dilemma with Lois Lane and reflects upon a time from his own youth when he erroneously thought he knew better than Pa Kent.
When Dreadnought and Psi-Phon are revealed as the masterminds behind the drone interlopers, Superman defers to his son, and both Kents realize they have made mistakes. Each hero recognizes where he has been wrong, and the two launch a counterassault against the extraterrestrial foes using mutual trust and teamwork.
Superman #26 Analysis:
Brains vs. Brawn is a simple story with a sweet sentiment that suffers from subpar execution. The coming of age tale represents a familiar (if somewhat shopworn) trope, but even cliches can be effective when presented cleverly enough; Superman #26, by contrast, offers little originality, includes inexplicable incongruities, and hampers its own objectives by dumbing down its central characters and watering down their moral authority with unnecessary ambiguity.
The flummoxed Clark can only complain to Lois and mutter, “I don’t know.” Lane remains the inquisitive reporter, asking probing questions, but she lacks either editorial insight or maternal wisdom with which to offer illumination. When Superboy finally sees the light, Superman backtracks to cast them both as equally ignorant, and this unsatisfying conclusion is cemented when a Smallville flashback shows that the elder Jonathan Kent set a similarly noncommittal fatherly example. Brains vs. Brawn undermines, rather than underscores, the notion that young Jon’s parents and grandfather have much to offer of either; indeed, for all the positive parenting anyone contributes in Superman #26, the Kent grown-ups all may as well have been gunned down by Joe Chill in Crime Alley with Thomas and Martha Wayne.
The muddled thinking of the adults in Superman #26 is echoed by the confusing conceits of what should have been a straightforward story. No context is provided for the villains — an ancillary pair of John Byrne throwaways and New 52 holdovers of no particular note — and little effort is made to make sense of Dreadnought’s and Psi-Phon’s presence, plan, actions, or dispatching. Furthermore, no justification is provided for their arrival in Hamilton County, and there is no logic to the fact that Superman and Superboy are there to confront them. Didn’t the Kents move to Metropolis? Weren’t the Super Elite just entrusted with the duty to protect the Hamilton County interdimensional rift from alien invaders? Why wasn’t Kathy Branden on hand to fight these guys?
What the graphics added to Brains vs. Brawn was sadly lacking. Although the artwork was energetic and Hi-Fi’s colors popped (as usual), Godlewski’s faces were marred by fisheye distortions and featured little in the way of personality. Wasted negative space abounded, while background details typically suffered, for about the last three-quarters of the book. Visually, the highlights were Lee Weeks’s and Brad Anderson’s cover and Rob Leigh’s “Delivery Courier” lettering nod to the publisher’s initials. Frankly, Superman #26 was the halfhearted handiwork of the second string, and it showed.
Put your brains to work instead of your brawn in the comments and ComiConverse with us about Superman #26!
T. Kyle King is an Expert Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
The backup crew offers slipshod execution of an unimaginative idea that produces an indecisive outcome in this throwaway one-off issue.