Brian Michael Bendis seems intent on making his mark on Superman's origins, and the opening issue of 'Mythological' with Superman #25 (opens in new tab) makes the case that he might just be able to. Rogol Zaar was Bendis' first attempt at seeding some mystery into Superman's origins but the Synmar represent a potentially much more interesting wrinkle in Clark's mythology.
But therein lies the problem with this issue - it's all potential and it remains to be seen whether Bendis can build a compelling villain that ties back into Clark's origins in a meaningful way. Ivan Reis joins Bendis for this arc and puts together a really good looking issue that brings a lot of balance to the issue.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ivan Reis, Julio Ferrira, Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The Synmar are from a planet near Krypton that witnessed its explosion and watched as a single spacecraft escaped the wreckage. They decided not to intercept and instead watched as Clark became Superman before deciding that they needed a Superman of their own. Their speech patterns are almost cult-like and Bendis floods their pages with so much dialogue that, coupled with Ivan Reis's inability to really draw them any differently from each other, it can be a little overwhelming to wrap your head around what they're saying. Like I said earlier, there's a lot of potential there, but considering their distance from Clark at this point in the story, it's hard to get the sense that they are really villains yet.
But Bendis doesn't dedicate the whole issue to the Synmar. He does some very good work with Lana Lang and Clark Kent, reminding readers of her history with him and her own time as a superhero. Bendis's voice tends to come through just about any character that he writes, but with a larger cast he's able to provide more variation. Lana has a distinct role in the Superman mythos and it's exciting to see her get a more prominent role here.
Ivan Reis' work fits the material well. But I wish he was able to bring more distinction to the Synmar. They all look very similar and tend to have one or two defining features. But when readers are thrown into an issue that is already packed with so much information, trying to keep track of a handful of new aliens is a little tough.
That said, those pages aren't poorly staged and Reis does a great job handling the flashbacks. It's really fun to see an artist remain consistent with their character renderings even as those characters are changing a bit with time. Given everything that we learn in this issue, it's nice to have Reis' superhero fundamentals anchoring the issue.
Superman #25 is not quite the bombshell that the cover might suggest, but it's an interesting way forward for the book. There are shades of Bendis's past work in the introduction of the Synmar but they already feel more fleshed out conceptually than some of his other villains. The balance between the Synmar and Clark's history with Lana Lang works well due to Ivan Reis' steadying artwork. This isn't a total home run even if it is an effective issue. Bendis still has to execute moving forward but he's at least laid a solid foundation here.
The Synmar are being introduced as a new threat for Superman, but will they match up to the evil-doers on Newsarama's list of the best Superman villains ever (opens in new tab)? We'll see.