ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Superman,’ Volume # 1 – The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Unity Saga Phantom Earth

After his departure from Marvel, Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Jessica Jones) crossed the multiverse to DC Comics and began work on an all-new Superman series following the events of the Man of Steel miniseries. Superman Volume # 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth is published by DC Comics, written by Brian Michael Bendis, with pencils by Ivan Reis (Justice League, Aquaman), inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, colors by Alex Sinclair, and letters by Josh Reed.  The graphic novel collects Superman #1-6 and, along with Bendis’ Action Comics Volume #1: Invisible Mafia. 

Following the events of the Man of Steel miniseries, Clark has lost both Lois and Jon, leaving him feeling alone. All of this is while he is grappling with the knowledge that the destruction of Krypton was not a tragic natural disaster but instead, a planned terrorist attack. Now, in addition to dealing with the stress of his family being taken away, Clark realizes someone has pushed the entire earth through the Phantom Zone projector. Leaving Earth deposited it in the deepest, darkest Kryptonian prison, the nightmare Phantom Zone.

Clark has no idea how long the Earth will last in its dangerous new home or how strong he can be without the yellow sun’s power. Additionally, the rest of the league, the humans at least, are slowly being poisoned thanks to the changes in the atmosphere caused by the Phantom Zone, leaving Clark nearly on his own as new threats emerge.

The biggest issue I had with Bendis’ Man of Steel miniseries was that it rehashed Lois and Jon leaving in so many flashbacks that it made Clark seem whiny. Additionally, I have often said, Superman’s best stories are not his biggest fights but instead his most human moments. The Man of Steel himself is a representation of what is best in humanity by not being human at all. He was created by Jewish immigrants to represent the best parts of America even though he wasn’t born in America. Needless to say, I was happy to see this story returning to these roots and ultimately being much better than its predecessor.

This story gives us more insight into Rogol Zaar, the alien who claimed to have been responsible for destroying Krypton. The book also takes a page from Batman and draws an interesting dichotomy between Zaar and the hopeful boy scout that is Clark Kent.

In a flashback with his son, Clark explains to a frustrated Jon that even though they have the power doesn’t mean they can or should. Clark also explains how much of a burden it is to carry all of that power, especially by yourself. As the book starts Clark is very much alone, but he remembers lessons he taught his son and those he was taught by his own father and remembers: he is not alone.

This volume is a step above the miniseries that it follows and luckily, the explanation at the beginning page does not make reading its predecessor necessary. This series is a great jumping-on point for new Superman fans while also carrying a lot of important elements that makes the hero so iconic that older fans will appreciate.

Bendis has a clear grasp on the character and his history of writing large scale events is evident here. While the pacing in the beginning issue is a tad slow it picks up well enough in the issues to follow. Reis’ art is beautiful and complimented well by the inking job of Prado and Albert. Alex Sinclair’s colors are vibrant and feel alive.

Overall, this feels like a Superman book and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, I also don’t want it to. I like my Superman stories to focus on Clark and his inspiring message of love and hope above all.

Superman Volume # 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth will be available in comic book stores everywhere March 5, 2019.

Superman Volume # 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth
4

TL;DR

Overall, this feels like a Superman book and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, I also don’t want it to. I like my Superman stories to focus on Clark and his inspiring message of love and hope above all.