Wrapping up their three-part “Only Child” story with the Man of Steel, Ron Marz, Doc Shaner, Matthew Wilson and Wes Abbott bring it all home in an emotionally charged, action-packed conclusion in “Adventures of Superman” #45. As this series nears a year of enjoyable stories from topnotch talent, this crew leaves the bar pretty high, having produced a three-part adventure that does everything a Superman story should.
Marz doesn’t forsake action for extended Superman navel-gazing scenes, choosing instead to maximize the space he is afforded in this installment. With twenty-three screens, Marz is able to give everyone — from the invading forces to Jimmy Olsen to Jor-El’s robot a chance to contribute to the story — and to do so in a memorable fashion. Marz closes the loop on the story, maintains the integrity of all the characters involved, and inserts humanity and personality to every character in “Adventures of Superman” #45. I would like to see a little more of his take on Lois and Clark’s relationship, but the essential beats are present in this installment.
For his part, Shaner continues to make a strong case to, as Mark Waid suggested via Twitter, “Please draw all Superman stories from now on until forever.” The artist continues to add little touches, like a hand-drawn camera viewscreen complete with dwindling battery supply. For the action sequences, Shaner channels Superman artists from throughout the history of the most famous superhero, giving readers a visual spectacle to soak in with touches of everyone from Curt Swan to Jerry Ordway. Superman punches his way through an invading armada and digs in deep to summon the inner strength to persevere against impossible odds and Shaner captures it all. You can almost hear knuckles cracking as fists are clenched tighter than usual. The dialog, smartly handled in word balloons furnished by Abbott, could be washed away and the story would remain true, bolstered a bit by Shaner’s built-in sound effects. Wilson’s colors are stunning and bold, washing this story with hues uncommon for adventures of the Man of Steel.
“Only Child” is a remarkable addition to the mythology of the Man of Steel. This three-parter epitomizes the notion of what this title should be and what Superman can and should be for comic readers. As the pacing for the digital to print goes, this story is going to add up to one magnificent standalone print comic book. Most importantly, though, this is my Superman. This is my dad’s Superman. This is my six-year-old nephew’s Superman. Marz and Shaner combine to tell a timeless tale of the Last Son of Krypton in a story that answers the perpetual question, “What’s so special about Superman?” I only hope DC figures out a way to bring these guys back for more. A creative team that clicks like this and a timeless tale such as “Only Child” unlocks the potential of the DC Digital First program.