Review: Superman #24

Kyle King Kyle King
Expert Contributor
June 11th, 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 #24
Comics
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Review of: Superman #24
Price:
Disconcerting

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On June 11, 2017
Last modified:June 11, 2017

Summary:

Clashing artistic styles, tangled plotlines inadequately explained, and the revival of unfortunate tendencies all worked to prevent this story from succeeding as it should have.

Review of: Superman #24
Price:
Disconcerting

Reviewed by:
Rating:

2
On June 11, 2017
Last modified:June 11, 2017

Summary:

Clashing artistic styles, tangled plotlines inadequately explained, and the revival of unfortunate tendencies all worked to prevent this story from succeeding as it should have.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Superman #24 followed up on the previous issue’s shocking revelation of the mastermind behind events in Hamilton County with the fifth chapter of Black Dawn. Patrick Gleason shared the story credit with Peter J. Tomasi and the pencilling chores with Doug Mahnke in this eye-opening installment, which ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to review.

(Warning: Spoilers follow!)

Superman #24 Review:

Manchester Black has shown Jonathan Kent the potential risks of using nonlethal force against would-be fatal invaders. Will the telekinetic villain’s extreme methods bring Superboy over to the dark side… or turn his own followers against him?

Superman #24 Synopsis:

In a flashback to his spacefaring days, Black is seen rescuing the green-skinned alien Kobb and his granddaughter, Kat, from the genocidal Kroog. As the collapsing reactor of the Kroogarian war pod opens numerous quantum rifts in the space around them, Manchester promises his new comrades he will teach them to be lambs who can slaughter wolves. Later, however, after Hamilton County has come under attack from gargantuan creatures, Kobb and Kat — now known as Cobb and Kathy Branden — begin to doubt.

Clark Kent likewise finds himself questioning his own methods until the recovering Lois Lane reaffirms her faith in him and sends Superman to rescue their son. Manchester brings Superboy to face his father at the Branden dairy farm. Despite Black’s impressive powers and impassioned speeches, Jon holds fast to what his parents taught him. Cobb and Kathy turn on the heartless antihero, and the Metropolis Marvel frees Batman, Robin, Frankenstein, and the Bride to help his cause, so Manchester fights back with the mightiest weapon at his command: Superboy.

Story continues below

Superman #24 Analysis:

There is a high degree of variety to the graphics of Black Dawn — Chapter 5, owing to the involvement of pencillers Gleason and Mahnke, a quartet of inkers (Mick Gray, Jaime Mendoza, Joe Prado, and Mahnke), and a trio of colorists (Hi-Fi, John Kalisz, and Wil Quintana). Rather than presenting a blend of different and somewhat disparate styles, though, Superman #24 features a stark demarcation between the issue’s seventh and eighth pages. When Clark changes into the Action Ace, the artwork shifts from one penciller’s hand to the other’s. This represents rather a jarring transition, as the previously clean simplicity of Gleason’s imagery instantly gives way to the exaggerated photorealism of Mahnke’s more heavily lined figures. The pictures do not mesh so much as they coexist.

Because Black Dawn — Chapter 5 represents the culmination of multiple intertwined plot threads, it is a busy issue. The introduction of the alien Kat is well executed, effectively mirroring the sequence showing Superboy on the penultimate page of the prior installment, but matters get considerably more convoluted from that juncture. There is a lot to explain in Superman #24, yet the audience is left to piece everything together from a stray status report by an unnamed lieutenant on Black’s ship, a dense rapid-fire exchange between Branden and Goodman, and a single-panel speech bubble in which Superman talks to himself. Despite a cool cameo by Krypto, there is too much left to conjecture in this chapter. Add to that the implausible facts that Cobb turns on a dime and Manchester suddenly speaks with overemphasized British accent and slang, and the problems with this issue abound.

The previous issue’s conclusion — in which Lois’s leg was severed — was deeply troubling, and Superman #24 did little to allay those concerns. A hospitalized Lois appeared only briefly, exhorting Clark by reminding him of his heroism, but the status of her own health remained a mystery. No mention was made of Lane’s injury, and the shapeless sheets of her hospital bed betrayed no hint whether her limb had been saved. Of course, Lois was seen standing on her own two feet in Action Comics #980, but it is unclear whether that story happened before this one. The Kents were moving to Metropolis in that issue, which suggests that it took place later, but, after the events of Black Dawn, it seems unlikely that Jon would want to remain in Hamilton County.

My bet is that Lane’s injury was an illusion. In Action Comics #796, after all, Manchester Black faked the murder of Lois in an attempt to provoke Superman to exact vengeance by killing the supervillain. When the Man of Steel stayed true to his values, Black revealed that her death had been telepathic trickery rather than reality… and I believe the same false fridging is occurring here, as well. While this lends to the cigarette-smoking Briton a clever nefariousness reminiscent of Jason Wyngarde from the X-Men’s Dark Phoenix Saga, it nevertheless perpetuates some of the worst trends of the era that the character of Manchester Black was created to help the Big Blue Boy Scout refute. Perhaps this will end well, but, until and unless it does, this installment will remain a bit of a distressing and messy muddle.

Is it always darkest before the Black Dawn? ComiConverse with us in the comments about Superman #24!

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

Superman #24

  • 2

Disconcerting

Clashing artistic styles, tangled plotlines inadequately explained, and the revival of unfortunate tendencies all worked to prevent this story from succeeding as it should have.

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