Super League Part 8: Superman #52 Review


The exciting conclusion to “The Final Days of Superman” story arc is lean storytelling at its finest, enhanced with the most beautiful and dramatic art out of the overall series.

Super League Part 8: Superman #52

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi / Artist: Mikel Janin with Miguel Sepulveda / Colors: Janin and Jeromy Cox / Letters: Rob Leigh / Cover: Janin / New 52 Variant Cover: Janin

The final chapter in “The Final Days of Superman” story arc is an exciting all-out brawl between the Man of Steel and his imposter. As the New 52 Superman finally meets his death, a familiar hero—once thought long gone post-Flashpoint—will pick up the mantle and return to action. Peter Tomasi crafts a lean story that’s complemented by Mikel Janin’s mesmerizing art.

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It’s the final Superman story before Rebirth, and Superman faces off with his imposter—a man named Denny Swan who was infused with Kal-El’s DNA after a bolt of sentient energy hit him. Swan is convinced that he’s the Last Son of Krypton and thinks that Superman is the one who’s the fake.

Superman attempts to subdue Swan—who’s getting closer to critical mass.  Unfortunately, Superman is overpowered, but Supergirl comes to the rescue and lends a helping hand. Soon, Batman and Wonder Woman join the fight. They’re able to buy Superman enough time to briefly recuperate.

As Swan continues his assault, Superman takes a hold of him—aiming to launch him into outer space. However, due to his weakened state, Superman quickly loses altitude. In a surprise appearance, pre-Flashpoint Superman comes in for an assist and successfully helps Superman finish the job.

To save pre-Flashpoint Superman, Superman knocks him back to Earth. Swan goes critical, and New 52 Superman absorbs most of his released energy. Free-falling towards the ground, Superman is rescued by pre-Flashpoint Superman.

Still nearing death, New 52 Superman says his goodbyes to those closest to him and eventually turns to dust. Pre-Flashpoint Superman is a mystery to everyone, but he promises that he’ll soon have the answers to all their questions. The world will now mourn the death of Superman.

Tomasi concludes this story arc with a great battle scene that also intertwines some poignant moments. The introspection is gone, and that’s probably because Superman has already completed what he needed to do.

Though not as dramatic as the “other” death of Superman that we experienced back in the 1990s, this was still the loss of a great hero. His colleagues all share a final moment with him—filled with tears and some heartfelt words. Even the usually stoic Dark Knight has a rare moment of emotion, telling the Man of Steel that it was an honor serving by his side.

What really elevates this final chapter to the next level is Janin’s art. The story arc opened with his brush strokes, so it’s only fitting that it ends with them also.

As a big fan of two-page mural-like spreads, this issue left me very satisfied. On top of that, they were used in the most perfect of places—right in the heat of battle. Janin’s crisp and clear character lines paired perfectly with his rendering of explosions and fiery beauty. The panels really glowed and conveyed a sense of motion—almost cinematic in quality.

To decide if a book contains good art or not, one only needs to look at the drawings without reading a single word. Then ask, “Can I decipher the story just from that?” Janin perfectly conveys the narrative panel-to-panel. The conciseness and clarity is just amazing.

Next: Super League Part 7: Superman / Wonder Woman #29 Review

Superman #52 is a great conclusion to an intriguing story arc that dovetails nicely into DC’s Rebirth. Fans will love where Tomasi has taken the character—or characters—of Superman, as he’s well-versed in the Man of Tomorrow’s personality and traits. Janin’s usual high quality art will be something readers will go back and stare at even after they’ve finished reading the issue. The story may have been about loss, but the actual theme is about regaining optimism—something that will carry readers into a new era in the DC universe.