Saturday, 25 October 2014

Superman #35 [The New 52] - DC Comics

SUPERMAN No. 35, December 2014
Completest collectors of Issue 35 of “Superman” must have found themselves leaving their local comic store with a serious stash of books under their arm, as “DC Comics” have decided to publish a number of alternative covers for this particular edition. None of ‘The New 52’ illustrations are particularly eye-catching or well-drawn but at least the Monsters of the Month variant by Jason Pearson ties into the company’s seasonal re-imagining of their characters as Halloween creatures. Though I am rather uncertain as to why the American comic book artist has decided to portray the Man of Steel as a Cenobite. 

Chapter Four of “The Men of Tomorrow” will also be one of any comic book collector’s swiftest reads, as writer Geoff Johns’ word count drops sharply for large portion of this issue. Indeed eight of the twenty-three pages within the comic contain six or less words and that is not including a series of panel sequences dotted throughout the storyline where the Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics plumbs for just the occasional spattering of dialogue. 

As a result vast swathes of the action could be both easily and quickly overlooked by an impatient casual reader with such an act being both unsurprising and forgivable given the somewhat lacklustre artwork of John Romita Junior. Workmanlike and competent, there isn’t anything especially wrong with the American artist’s illustrations as such. In fact coupled with the rather splendid colouring of Laura Martin the book’s panels are rather pleasing to the eye.

But an edition with so little within it to actually read, with the exception of a somewhat wordy opening and ending, must rely upon the quality and detail of its artwork to enthral and captivate. Unfortunately any such scrutiny by the reader of Romita Junior’s drawing will do nothing but alienate the audience as square-nosed, outrageously long-limbed and one-dimensional silhouette-like figures abound. 

However not all is lost for the son of one of the foremost Spider-Man artists since the Sixties. A proportion of the action takes place during a torrential downpour, and this lashing weather really works in Romita Junior’s favour, affording the artist plenty of opportunities to produce his infamous line hatchings. Of particular note is his double-page spread of Superman and Ulysses lifting an enormous cargo vessel out of the ocean, with water pouring over the two super-strong heroes.

Sadly, despite a clear Jack “King” Kirby ‘Galactus’ influence, the artist’s final double-page illustration, depicting Ulysses opening a space rift to his “better world” is less than impressive and ends the issue on something of a wasted opportunity.
Numerous covers to "SUPERMAN" Issue 35 by John Romita Junior and Mike McKone

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