Comic Review: ‘Superman #18’

Change is afoot for the Man of Steel… 

Superman #18

Cover art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Alex Sinclair (image credit: DC Comics).

Written by:  Brian Michael Bendis / pencils by:  Ivan Reis / inks by:  Joe Prado / colours by:  Alex Sinclair

What’s it about?

“The Truth” : after facing the lies and secrets of his father, Superman makes the ultimate decision and reveals himself to the world…

In review

After months of teasing by DC and writer Brian Michael Bendis, Superman #18 sees the Man of Steel come to the ultimate decision and reveal his true identity to the world.  A gutsy move for sure and one that’s stirred – understandably – a lot of trepidation amongst the fan community but results in one of the most emotionally resonant and moving comic books to have been published in a long time.  Of course, the revelation that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same has occurred before – as recently as DC’s New 52 – but it has never felt more relevant and appropriate than it does here and despite the initial apprehension of the readership, it just feels right.  The character of Superman is a beacon of hope and an embodiment of those much vaunted values of truth and justice and in these all too often troubled times where people may be fearful of the future and where there can be great distrust in public figures and disappointment at the duplicitousness of those in power, the reveal is a genuine and honest step for the world’s greatest superhero to make.

Brian Michael Bendis provides an unwaveringly strong script that keeps things very much on a personal level with plenty of emotional grounding and a healthy dose of moral debate as Superman/Clark considers the weight and possible outcomes of his decision.  Bendis makes a strong case for what on the surface is a risky choice, Superman’s conversation with Adam Strange facilitating the bulk of the argument.  Bendis retains his trademark style of snappy dialogue but not without undermining the seriousness of the situation, making the exchange both thought provoking and fun.  In the end it feels right and true because of what the Last Son of Krypton has endured in recent times – most specifically the actions of his father Jor-El and the dark secrets he kept, playing a significant role in Clark’s resolution.

Whilst this issue is framed by the press conference in which Superman’s reveal is made (scenes which felt in some way reminiscent of the United Nations sequence in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, carrying that same sense of nobility and highlighting the inherent “goodness” associated with the character – there’s also a neat little nod to Tim Burton’s Batman Returns elsewhere in the book), Bendis takes time to show things very much from Clark’s perspective and understands the importance of those close to him as he chooses to reveal the truth to certain others before going public.  One such moment is executed exceptionally well and without dialogue, allowing the art to tell a specific part of the story more effectively than any series of words could.

Speaking of the art, Ivan Reis (together with his collaborators Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair on inks and colours, respectively) returns after a short break and produces some of his best work – beyond the usual quality in layouts and character, Reis contributes a great deal to the storytelling especially in helping to convey the emotion of the narrative with highly intricate and expressive faces and body language enhancing the spirit of Bendis’ script.

Superman #18 is arguably a masterpiece and although not everyone may be pleased with such a significant change in status quo, Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t take things lightly and opens up a world of possibilities as readers are left with a hint of what the consequences are going to be and how it will shape the future for Superman and the DC Universe.

The bottom line:  A bold new chapter in the history of Superman begins as Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis deliver an engaging and emotional story that upholds the positive virtues of the character.

Superman #18 is published by DC and is available in print and digital formats now.

Images used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).

6 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘Superman #18’

  1. I’ve not read all of Bendis’s run, but I’ve got into reading Superman again, and I quite enjoyed Superman #18. A good solid issue with great art. As for the big reveal, well, I think it was handled well. Superman’s identity as Clark Kent has always been an iconic part of the character, so it will be intriguing to see how this pans out.

    • Glad to hear you’ve dived back into Superman Paul. I was definitely apprehensive about the reveal but having enjoyed the Bendis run thus far I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. He offers good, identifiable reasons for the reveal but, yes, we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out in the long term but I’m optimistic based on how this issue turned out.

  2. Fantastic review, good sir. It is amazing what Bendis “dares” to do with Superman (or even in all the countless series he’s writing). I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the second volume of both Action Comics and Superman next year. And look forward to the Leviathan event. By the way, did you watch Crisis on Infinite Earths????? I went through a lot of catch-up to be up to date with all five main CW series just to see part 1-3 of the event. I was sort of sad but also a bit glad that they adapted Bendis’ Superman stories to Supergirl instead! But yooooo, there’s so many amazing Easter eggs in the crossover event! I won’t say anything until I know that you’ve seen them hahah

    • Thank you my friend. The reveal was certainly daring and I was sceptical of the idea but tried to keep an open mind having enjoyed everything Bendis has done with Superman thus far. I was pleasantly surprised, it remains to be seen how it plays out long term but we shall see. I think it’s likely the genie will likely be put back in the bottle in the future by another writer but I look forward to seeing where Bendis goes with things from here on.

      Alas, I haven’t seen any of Crisis as it won’t be airing in the UK until the New Year…and even then, no service here has picked up Batwoman so it seems we’ll be missing an instalment…

      P.S. Will be catching up with your recent reviews very soon, which I’m looking forward to checking out!

      • Oh man, such an unfortunate situation for the UK fanbase! I honestly think you would’ve enjoyed the Crisis event for all of its references to comic books and iconic actors who have played someone in the DC lore! Hope someday you’ll get the chance to check it out.

        No worries for my reviews, good sir! 😀

      • I definitely look forward to seeing what we do get of the Crisis event – Brandon Routh’s return as Superman in particular, it’d be great if he got his own limited series but alas that probably won’t happen given the Arrow-verse Superman is getting a series.

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