Superman #40 Cover (Close-up)

Superman #40

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza & Scott Hanna
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics

Review by Cory Webber

Superman #40 is the first of a two-part story called “Suicide Planet.” We take a quick respite from Tomasi & Gleason’s masterful run, with Robinson & Mahnke at the helm. The story deals with a planet that is bound to suffer a fate similar to that of Krypton. Superman takes it upon himself to save them (naturally!); however, there’s a slight complication: the people want to die!

Superman #40 starts with Superman and Superboy meeting at the Fortress of Solitude on the anniversary of Krypton’s destruction. Superman takes this opportunity to help his son gain some more knowledge and respect for his heritage. Now, this story had kind of a personal impact. See, I have a five-year-old son who is quarter-Mexican, on his Mom’s side, and we are trying to instill in him a respect and an appreciation for his heritage.

Superman is made aware of the imminent destruction similar to the way Krypton was destroyed. He decides to go save it, but he doesn’t want his son to join him. Jon convinces him that it’s a good time for him to go out to space and get a sense of what it is like to know another planet that is so similar to Krypton. He can go on one condition: that he doesn’t tell his mother. Another point that struck close to home *shifty eyes*.

I have been really enjoying the family dynamic in this book since the Rebirth “reboot,” and Robinson has a strong feel for it. He really pegs the childlike wonder and curiosity of Superboy. I like how this story builds on the relationship that Clark and Jon have developed over the last thirty-nine issues. Seeing how Jon has gained more and more trust with his Dad over this time has been great. Again, another way this hits a little close to home, as my oldest (5) is growing up so fast, and being trusted with more and more over time.

The story takes an interesting turn when the people of the fated planet don’t want to be saved. It takes an even more interesting turn when they are able to de-power our heroes. Their is an underlying theme of science versus religion that I really enjoy. I am someone who thinks science and religion complement each other, and it’s always fun to see this debate played out. It’s even more fun to see it in a two-part “breather,” which typically are more fluffy, character-driven projects.

The art by Mahnke in Superman #40 is better than I was expecting. Again, knowing this is a two-part aside to the main story, I had expectations of it being a little more empty filler, and not so much hearty filling. He really pegs Jon’s personality of being mischievous, curious and genuine. I like how his personality is juxtaposed with the more sturdy, experienced personality of this father. This is shown particularly well on the splash page when they first fly into space. And the ensuing pages of them flying through space had a celestial, otherworldly beauty, and I felt like I was seeing if for the first time right there with Superboy.

I liked the character designs of the alien species and their planet. I enjoyed how Quintana’s colors really stood out during the space travel scenes, as well as during their alien encounter. It was the same with the inks; they fell kind of flat for me, again, until the story turns to the stars, where they lend depth and contrast to the brighter, sharper colors.

Verdict: Buy it. 

For me, Superman #40 breaks the mold somewhat for a two-part “breather” story. It includes a nice personal touch as Superman and Superboy’s relationship progresses with Supes showing trust in mini Supes.

Cory Webber
Cory Webber is a devoted entrepreneur, husband and father. Having recently discovered the wonderful world of comics, he spends most of his free time devouring issue upon issue. The rest of his free time is devoted to sleeping.

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