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Brian Michael Bendis Brings Hope to the Two Main Superman Series

Henry Cavill’s departure as Superman from the DC movie universe is not surprising. The silver screen made him out to be a simple and bland flying brick with an apathetic personality. His performance didn’t jive well with audiences, because he didn’t serve a purpose. This wasn’t Cavill’s fault, his character was not very well written or fleshed out. Don’t be mistaken, his drive to be the paragon of hope was stated numerous times, but lacked any real weight. Saying you are the best, but without proof is an empty statement. This portrayal of comic’s most famous boy scout is not the Superman audiences grew to love. For a proper portrayal of the Kryptonian, there are so many great renditions, some of which are listed at the end of the article . What he needs is a good writer to bring his values to life. Brian Michael Bendis could potentially be Superman’s saviour if he stays on track.

Action Comics #1000

Brian Michael Bendis’ shocked everyone when he switched from Marvel to DC. The creator was one of Marvel’s go-to superstars. He has a knack to create engaging story arcs focusing on a character’s growth as a person. Typically, the threats he creates aren’t generic monsters destroying the city (though that does happen often, it is a superhero comic after all). Instead, he excels at designing obstacles that confront the protagonist’s own self-worth. He had great successes with ALIAS, and his move to more popular series, such as Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the X-Men brought him and Marvel success. Watching this “betrayal” of his comic family brought up a lot of questions. The biggest mystery was what series was he going to helm. Once it was revealed he was going to write Action Comics and Superman, a lot of fans breathed a sigh of relief because his talent for writing singular character stories is well known and respected.

As of this article, he is writing two solo ongoing Superman books: Superman and Action Comics. They both take place after the six-issue limited series Man of Steel, also written by Bendis. The miniseries starts off as many #1s do. It gives a brief origin story, including a summary of his morals, and reviews his most recent adventure. Metropolis is in a moment of peace and serenity when suddenly Superman is confronted on two sides. On one hand, his father wants to take his son on a birthright trip to enlighten him of his Kryptonian heritage, and on the other, he is attacked by Rogol Zaal, an alien with a personal grudge against all Kryptonians. While Lois Lane and his son join Jor-El on the space adventure, Superman stays back to stop Rogol Zaal’s rampage. Unlike his movie counterpart that caused unnecessary amounts of collateral damage, he puts in an effort to save as many lives as possible.

It’s a wonderful series exploring what Superman stands for as he shows such sorrow when his personal belongings (especially the city of Kandor) are destroyed. He shows determination and strength to put an end to Rogol Zaal’s hate, and never loses compassion for his friends, and citizens of Metropolis. The loss of both human and Kryptonian life drives him to be a better person,; he refuses to lose hope.

It’s at this point that Action Comics and Superman follow suit. They are currently halfway through the first arc, and so far, they are capturing the perfect Superman. In Superman, Rogol Zaal sends the Earth into the Phantom Zone, while in Action Comics, a new danger is approaching slandering Superman’s good name.

Superman #1

The success of the books don’t come from the action, or Ivan Reis’ and Patrick Gleason’s art, which are wonderful. Instead, the books perfectly define Superman as a character. In Bendis’ pension for internal monologues, he shows Superman’s conflict by being a hero, a reporter, an alien, and a family man. He keeps up a positive attitude and determination without Flash’s wise-cracks. He solves mysteries without Batman’s cynicism. He shows determination to fight monsters without Wonder Woman’s warrior mentality. He’s stern when scolding a young boy for lying and then convinces him to help the community by volunteering. He encompasses everything that’s wholesome and strong. He never stops fighting. And when asked by Green Arrow if he can turn off his super senses, he gives the best response

First of all, yes I can. I can turn it off anytime I want. I don’t. I never have and never will.

He continues self-reflecting that after all the madness, and hell that happens on a daily basis he also hears and sees people helping one another out. No matter the level of destruction, he’s proud to see that even the normal folk are striving to do good. He admires this whole heartily. In another case, while observing the Earth suffering the effects of the Phantom Zone, Bendis captures Superman’s optimism with a wondrous phrase:

I’m not going to say “This day sucks”. I refuse.

In a couple of pages, Bendis masterfully depicts Superman. There’s no need to show Superman save kittens from tree-tops. Bendis understands that Superman values hard work and empathy. Letting Bendis take the lead on Superman, one of superheroes most popular and greatest heroes is a good decision.

Despite getting Superman right, the stories still fall into the same trap of many ongoing series. Unlike Superman Secret Identity, Superman: Birthright, or the perfect All Star Superman, many ongoing series promise major changes that never last the next arc. This isn’t the writer’s fault, but it’s the way the industry tends to works. In any case, Bendis brings back Superman’s charm, and personality in refreshing ways that fill the world with hope.

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