Hey friends! Until things get sorted on the comic book front, we’re taking a break from the New Comics column. In it’s place comes Best In Trade! Check here ever Tuesday for a review of a collected story from the long or recent past. We kick things off with a look at the recent release Superman: The Unity Saga – The House of El!
Following the first half of The Unity Saga, The House of El ties up loose ends from the Man of Steel miniseries from the previous year. Jonathan Kent went to spend one crazy summer with his gramps, Jor-El, among the stars. Now he has returned and not exactly the same as he was before.
It’s taken seven years for Superboy to return to Earth. For Superman, Lois, and the rest of the world, it’s only been a number of weeks. Jonathan recounts his adventures to his parents, leaving them with more questions than answers. On his journey with his Clark’s wacky dad, they may have started an intergalactic war. As always, it’s up to Supes to go up there and fix things. Meanwhile, there’s still the pesky problem of Rogol Zaar. It took everything Superman had to beat him before. Thing will be a whole lot tougher this time as he teams up with General Zod!
Something that has been a returning topic of discussion in the New Comics column on this site as well as on the Back Issue Bloodbath podcast is that Brian Michael Bendis’ jump to the Distinguished Competition has rejuvenated his writing prowess. Fellow columnist Kris Johnson has dubbed it the “Benaissance”. Superman has been a great reflection of this and this latest chapter holds true. Bendis has brought a mix of deep personal moments with hard hitting action. Years ago, both were lacking in the average Superman story. Writers like Peter Tomasi breathed new life into the character around the start of Rebirth and BMB’s run has taken the ball and ran with it.
The decision to previously send Jonathan to space with his untrustworthy grandfather was a risky one. Having him return as an older version of himself was downright insane on paper. But Bendis stuck to his guns and the result is a heartfelt story of a confused teenager recovering from his incredible journey. We also see the anger, frustration and regret felt by Lois and Clark for the years they’ve lost with their son. But that’s just one facet of the story. There’s also the threat of intergalactic war and the pending battle with two heavy hitters from the Man of Tomorrow’s long and recent past. All plot threads are handled with care and brought to satisfying conclusion. The House of El reads well and looks beautiful.
The art team on this book is all A-level as would be expected. Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson and Jason Fabok provide pencils worthy of a flagship character like Superman. The colours of Alex Sinclair bring life to these drawings and have the variety that would be expected for a space adventure with arguably the most iconic comic book character of all time. The House of El is exactly what you want to see when you open a Superman comic.
The only thing that stands out as odd in the tale is the ending. While still very good, it does feel a bit rushed in the end. A number of plot threads are wrapped up but with the amount of care and time given in the first half of The Unity Saga, Phantom Earth, as well as the first part of this half, things movie rather quickly near the end. The end result is satisfactory and no character or motivation seems out of place. It does feel a tad rushed but not enough to ruin the overall enjoyment of the story.
If you’re looking for a great read in these uneasy times, look no further than Superman: The Unity Saga – The House Of El. The story that began in the Man of Steel Miniseries concludes here in exciting fashion and continues to make a Superman fan out of me. Order your copy of The House of El today!
Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of Superman: The Unity Saga – The House of El for this review.
Check back here next week for another edition of Best In Trade.
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