It’s arguably hard not to feel that Brian Michael Bendis placed an awful lot of faith in this title’s 63,565 readers, in so far as believing they’d actually go and seek out all the additional information relating to Rogol Zaar’s background which “DC Comics” was contemporaneously printing, simply to help them fill in the gaps which his penmanship creates throughout this mini-series’ narrative. For whilst the Cleveland-born author’s script for Issue Four of “Man Of Steel” predominantly focuses upon the titular character’s failed fist-fight against the “alien who claimed to have been responsible for destroying Krypton”, the twenty-two page periodical never touches upon the Phantom Zoner supposedly committing “a string of atrocities across the cosmos” prior to his arrival on Earth, nor clarifies what his vendetta with Jor-El’s people is.
Admittedly, this lack of clarity surrounding the facially-disfigured, super-strong “religious zealot” does provide a significant element of intrigue to proceedings as to why he seemingly hates Clark Kent’s alter-ego so much and how he so nonchalantly managed to obliterate the entire hapless population of Kandor. But in only laying “down the bread crumbs leading to the writer’s first issues of Superman and Action Comics in July” the Metropolis Marvel’s lengthy battle with his new nemesis in this publication eventually becomes little more than a debatably stale confrontation which rather drags on, especially as Kal-El’s adversary “has not spoken. Not one word.”
Similarly as disconcerting is just how tough Zaar apparently appears to be, batting off the all-powerful punches of the Big Blue Boy Scout and his cousin, Supergirl, in one pulse-pounding panel, and then effortlessly laying a serious sense-shattering smackdown upon the pair in the next. Indeed, it’s hard to recall Kara Zor-El being treated in such a disrespectful fly-like manner as Bendis portrays her within this book, with the Kryptonian being repeatedly swatted away into the sky like an irksome insect by “the new big bad.”
Perhaps this magazine’s biggest disappointment however, comes with Kevin Maguire’s artwork which seems better suited to a more humour-filled magazine, than one cataloguing Superman’s all-too sombre “cleansing” with an extra-terrestrial mass-murderer. Highly stylised, and supposedly “comedian… Seth Meyers… favourite comic book artist”, the American’s heavily outlined cartoony illustrations badly jar with such life-threatening circumstances and debatably make the likes of Hal Jordan’s appearance as “the Green Lantern of this Sector” look like something from a Late Sixties issue of “Not Brand Echh”.