Four chapters into “The Men of Tomorrow” courtesy Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Laura Martin, and this remains one great-looking book. But unfortunately, a lot of this issue feels a bit repetitious, as Johns circles back around to the same points that were already made in previous chapters.
The biggest point in that regard is the resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger, where it Ulysses had killed one the Machinist’s slaves and we get the hard contrast created between Superman and Ulysses. And while the story up until that point had been enjoyable, it was almost unfathomable that readers hadn’t already seen the inevitable moment coming (in whatever form it appeared) where we were given the compare-and-contrast example. This issue, though, seems to somewhat undo last month’s cliffhanger… only to then loop back to that same idea (but in a different form) later in the issue. It’s a little frustrating because by this point the big theme has already been touched on, we’ve had to wait a month because of the “Futures End” tie-in, and now we’re not that much further from where we were then.
That lack of progression continues in the subplots, too. Clark Kent’s return to the Daily Planet was all but finalized in previous issues, but here we’re once more seeing it being set up. While it does give us one great little moment — Lois Lane’s comment, “The Daily Planet is finally getting interesting again” — it also brings home the lack of momentum. Even the hooded figure who’s been watching all of these proceedings makes another appearance, but once again, nothing new is introduced or even advanced regarding him.
So what does stand out in “Superman” #35? The art, definitely. The entire sequence set in the North Atlantic just looks amazing, for starters. The driving rain provides just the right emotional core for the sequence, watching it batter both the Machinist’s cargo ship as well as Superman and Ulysses. The pair of them lifting the ship while the water pours off of them feels full of raw power, no small feat for a static image. Then, just a couple of pages later, we get the attack of the Machinist-possessed birds, and they look just amazing. As the massive creatures swoop in, their dark wings surrounding and enfolding Superman look great, with Romita Jr. and Janson giving their flaps strength as they pump towards Superman. Martin does her job well too, giving their glowing green eyes a wonderfully eerie look. This is a perfect example of how something as simple as a flock of birds can look dangerous. It just takes the right level of effort and skill from the creative team.
“Superman” #35 does a lot of heavy lifting in the art, but after a month’s absence, the story is a bit disappointing. It’s pleasant enough, but we’re starting to hit the point where it feels almost like the comic is in a holding pattern, stalling for whatever reason. Here’s hoping the new cliffhanger this month has some more staying power and picks up the pace while we’re at it.