When it comes to comic books, miniseries are strange beasts. Historically speaking, unless they weren’t part of a massive crossover event (something akin to Infinity Gauntlet or Final Crisis, both of which were world-shattering watershed milestones for their respective publisher’s entire line) they often don’t focus on a solo character and remain in continuity.
This rings even more true when it comes to characters like Superman. Superman has always had at least two ongoing flagship titles under is yellow belt in which he is the main character. He is also a mainstay member of the Justice League and makes plenty of appendences in other titles, so the notion of him getting his own solo miniseries that is in continuity seems almost superfluous. Now, it’s not that we don’t love Supes, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Superman is DC Comics’ golden boy. In fact, he’s comic books’ golden boy. He’s the standard against which every superhero is measured and rightfully so. Over the past six issues of Brian Michael Bendis’ first full-fledged outing into DC Comics and specifically the character Superman, The Man of Steel, readers have been taken on a wild ride following a murderous genocidal maniac by the name of Rogol Zaar as he peruses and annihilates any living relic of Krypton.
As you might expect, Zaar’s deeper backstory has been shrouded in mystery. While the villain is often judged by his somewhat generic appearance, he has proved himself to more than just a formidable villain in hand-to-hand combat against Kal-El and his cousin, Supergirl. Along the way, Rogol Zaar has inflicted potentially unrepairable damage to Superman‘s legacy by eradicating large chunks of it.
Now, with The Man of Steel #6 on sale, we see that this miniseries provides little closure and offers a whole new slew of questions, which might be problematic for some readers. Most miniseries are isolated stories that have a defined beginning, middle, and end. The way they play into the larger comic universe that surrounds them varies wildly depending on when and where they take place. Sometimes they are emotional stories that focus on a single character (or a small group of characters), and other times they are presented with a wider scope that could cause massive ripples in every title connected to them.
But miniseries are probably at their best when they are standalone stories that aren’t in continuity which allows them to tell a tale using a beloved character in interesting ways; a lot of DC Elseworlds books are perfect examples of this. But rarely is a miniseries used as massive prelude. Sure a lot of limited books end with a cliffhanger or at least a few unresolved plot threads, but rarely do they lead directly into another ongoing title so blatantly like The Man of Steel has.
Look, this isn’t a huge mark against the book. Pound for pound, The Man of Steel has been an exceptional miniseries and has proven that Bendis really knows how to handle the character of Superman. Even if it all has just been one big prelude to Action Comics #1001 and the relaunched Superman series, it was still a wild ride. Still, some readers might find it a little cheated, or they’ve been wasting their time, which is somewhat valid. Could the events of The Man of Steel have played out in the pages of the ongoing series? Sure. But over the course of six weekly issues, Brian Michael Bendis and a revolving door of A-list artists, Jason Fabok in particular, have done some great work in this title.
While this series finale may have limped a bit to the finish line in regards to giving readers some closure, over it has done a bang up job of juggling three distinct storylines (one of which is not linear). It’s a good thing this book was released on a weekly schedule as it would be tough to keep coming back month to month for a book that moves in inches and would be exhausting for a lot of readers. Bottom line: The Man of Steel #6 is a solid issue in a solid miniseries. It’s not as shocking as previous installments and it did little to put a button on the series, but it is well-written and has some fantastic art. And really, who are we kidding? If you’ve made it this far, this one is already in your stack.