When editors and solicits say “IT ALL CHANGES HERE!”, in my experience it tends to be an over-hyped let down. In the case of Superman #13, they didn’t announce the change. Previews hinted at it this week, but not much was said. I can now tell you without a doubt there is a major change as of now; after 72 years of loyal service, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent has quit the Daily Planet. It was done with minimal announcement, and it was a long time coming - all the way from issue #1 a year ago.
The beginning of the issue deals with tests of both Superman’s strength and patience. A scientist tests Superman’s strength and limits within the Earth’s core (managing to get a sweat drop from the Man of Steel, a fact that impresses Superman). She also tells him how he needs the sun to boost his power (even though he may be out of the sun, he’s still quite powerful); she also tells him he’s been away for five days; this leads to his next test of patience, dealing with Jimmy Olsen as a roommate.
Add to this, at work he deals with being pressured to get news stories on Superman. The pressure builds and he snaps a bit at Lois, pointing out that the news she’s been putting onto PGN programming has been tabloid fodder; real news is worth only a couple minutes to the conglomerate news organization that the Planet is now part of. He also sees Lois do something that gives us a sign that things are about to change. And then it happens. The epic verbal showdown between Clark and Planet owner Morgan Edge (see the picture on the right). In it, Scott Lobdell writes an impassioned speech about standing up for Truth, Justice and (he’s not ashamed to say it) The American Way by reporting the news people NEED to hear, not WANT to hear (this reflects my own opinion on news, but that’s another story). This leads to Clark quitting the Planet and gaining an unlikely ally in journalism before having to fight a mysterious monster and have a bit of a family reunion, leading to the “H’el on Earth” arc.
Lobdell is firing on all cylinders with the story and dialogue, but what will stand out to all is Clark’s rousing speech in the defense of journalism over tabloid news; a moment where “the mouse roars”. Another great moment is a silent one, one that makes us feel sad for Clark as he feels his human connections dwindling down. No prose, no thought boxes, just one text message. It’s small moments like these two that can tell more about a character than him beating on the villain for the issue.
Being a big fan of RHATO (That’s Red Hood and The Outlaws), I love Kenneth Rocafort’s art. Here, his art style works perfectly for the Man of Steel, his friends, and his enemies. His high-tech machines are equally matched with the busy bullpen of the Planet, each has its moment to shine. The colors by Sunny Gho compliment the art. While we did see Rocafort’s art in last month’s 0 issue, it seems his art style is just as good for a city on Earth as it is for a city on Krypton.
Superman as a title has had a rough year. It constantly changed creative teams with varying degrees of success. In Superman #13, we see a much stronger book to start off the second year for the comic. Lobdell takes inklings from the first arc and brings it together to a monumental moment, and Rocafort’s art is a fine compliment to it. I’m looking forward to great things as He’l comes to Earth.
Superman #13 – Written by Scott Lobdell, Art by Kenneth Rocafort