Best Shots review: Superman #29 is foreboding and intense

Superman #29
(Image credit: DC)

Father and son fight alongside one another in Superman #29. Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Phil Hester explore the relationships between parents and children as Clark and Jonathan Kent ward off repeated intrusions from another dimension.

Superman #29 credits

Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Sean Lewis
Art by Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Hi-Fi, Sami Basri, and Ulises Arreola
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10     

The issue opens in the midst of battle as Superman and Superboy fight off some monstrous interdimensional aliens. Phil Hester and inker Eric Gapstur give the action a really classic feel, with bold lines and classic poses. Hester draws Superman's cape as larger than life, using the capes to sell the idea of movement in the vacuum of a space environment. Colorist Hi-Fi uses really bold versions of the colors and doesn't create too much visual depth with different tones, giving these images a flatter look that gives the comic a classic feel. These larger-than-life images are contrasted with the sense of foreboding in Phillip Kennedy Johnson's captions, which focus on the way that children learn about the vulnerability of their parents. This tension builds as the battle progresses until Superman is ultimately weakened by the radiation from the interdimensional breach. 

(Image credit: DC)

The comic builds off of this moment, and utilizes a rapid pace to build the tension as Superman and Superboy are repeatedly called in to fight off this invasion force. Even at home, there's an unspoken tension as Jonathan is preoccupied by the knowledge that his father was hurt. Johnson and Hester keep raising the stakes with each battle, until it culminates with Jonathan confronting his father about what is happening. Johnson's dialogue does a really good job of highlighting the way that Jonathan has grown during his time in the future, and the way that Clark still struggles to see him for who he is. It's a really strong scene that gives weight to what is otherwise a fast-paced read. 

While this main story is foreboding and intense, the backup offers a comparatively lighter tale, as Bibbo Bibbowski goes on a date. Writer Sean Lewis sets the stage with Jimmy asking Bibbo to write a story from the perspective of the everyman, and so Bibbo's self-loathing haunts him as he goes on a date with a beautiful woman named Dolores. Bibbo knows that other people look at them as an odd pair, and tries to hide his self-doubt and enjoy his date. Artist Sami Basri does a great job with the composition of the pages as the night goes from bad to worse for Bibbo when a pair of supervillains attack the theater where Bibbo and Dolores have gone. The down-on-his-luck nature of Bibbo makes this story a blast to read and contrasts nicely with the story in the main issue. 

Between the backup and the main story, Superman #29 makes for an enjoyable read, even if it's a bit of light one. The examination on the changing relationship between Superboy and Superman by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Phil Hester is strong, but the faster pace makes the comic feel a bit uneven since the backup is so much more verbose. There's a good chance readers may end up taking more time to read the secondary story than the main one. Superman #29 ends up being a bit like a good fast food meal – one that you get a craving for in the middle of a day on a summer afternoon. This isn't particularly filling, but it hits the spot when it counts.

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Robert Reed
Freelance Writer

Robert is a Los Angeles-based comics journalist and writer (formerly Omaha, Nebraska). He currently writes for Newsarama and Adventures in Poor Taste.