(DC Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by: Mike Johnson
Artwork by: Eddy Barrows
Inking by: Eber Ferreira
Color Artwork by: Peter Pantazis
The Psi War story arc has seen the changing of the creative guard on Superman proper, the team that was manning the helm at the start of this narrative is not the same here at the conclusion and while not being a seamless transition it has been surprisingly smooth. Mike Johnson does a praise-worthy job of stepping up to deliver one of the most entertaining and just plain fun issues of Superman since the New 52’s inception, in fact Psi War has been one of the overall best New 52 Superman stories to date. Johnson has brought back some of the action-packed fun to Superman, filling the story with solid characterizations, unpretentious, candid dialogue and larger than life, sinister villains. This is not the innovative opus of Mark Waid, Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison but that was not what Superman needed right now, this title, this character needed an exciting, no holds barred, action-packed thrill ride and that’s exactly what Psi War has been. This arc was the shot in the arm that Big Blue needed so desperately since his New 52 debut. Perhaps more than any other character Superman has struggled with his post New 52 persona; whether it is the rather underwhelming response to his new costume or DC’s inability to find just the right creative team to handle Superman and keep him relevant in the DCU after Man of Steel’s somewhat lukewarm performance in comparison to the Marvel films and even to the Nolanverse Batman trilogy, whatever the reason may be this arc could be the one to set Superman on solid ground for the first time in the New 52 era. The other Superman titles are suffering from the same ailments even the Scott Snyder & Jim Lee created title, Superman Unchained has not lived up to the hype, perhaps faltering under the weight of overly optimistic expectations. Hopefully a simple story of Superman battling hostile psychics with the assistance of an enhanced Lois Lane is just what the doctor ordered, it certainly appears to be.
As good as this issue is it does suffer from the multiple hands it has passed through to reach its conclusion such as myriad editorial notes and an ending that leaves the fate of the main antagonist unresolved or at best extremely ambiguous, however the good far outweighs the bad. The highlight of this issue is Johnson’s portrayal of Lois Lane, the interior dialogue she has with her newly super-powered self is instrumental in understanding her as a complex, multi-faceted character. The story is paced incredibly well giving you just enough time to digest the plot points before layering in the kinetic action sequences. There are some poignant moments as well, one of the best is a scene where Superman is cradling Lois who is barely holding onto consciousness but before she drifts off completely she tells Superman that he has Clark’s voice, effectively announcing to him that his secret is hidden no more. Superman responds in a very tender manner by telling her that she is his best friend and always has been. Johnson does a superb job of writing these sensitive, heart-felt moments, the issue ends with another of these poignant scenes, this one at Lois’ hospital bedside.
Eddy Barrows gives us another visually outstanding issue. His Superman embodies the classic chiseled chinned marble sculpted body hero that has been Superman for decades, yet Barrows use of unconventional panel layouts and dynamic choreography keep his work fresh and relevant. Following Kenneth Roccafort is no doubt a daunting task but Barrows has done so admirably, he is carving out his own corner of Superman history and I believe if this creative team is allowed to flourish as they have proven they are capable of doing, this book could return to the splendor Superman is so deserving of.
Johnson and Barrows deliver a rock solid issue that is entertaining and engrossing. Barrows art is electric and exciting to look at, he handles Johnson’s rapid pace with expert precision and dynamic page design. I believe they are the creative team that can re-establish Superman as an upper echelon title in the DCU and for those reasons I give this issue a 4 out of 5 and recommend it highly and without reservation to past and present Superman fans, pick up this entire arc and read it with an open mind I believe you will find it an engaging and enjoyable read. So until next time, see you at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629