Whilst Brian Michael Bendis may well have truly believed that his narrative for this mini-series’ “slow-burn mystery of what happened to Lois and Jon” was “very enticing… very exciting”, it is arguably problematic to envisage the majority of the weekly’s audience feeling the same way considering just how many questions the five-time Eisner Award-winner’s script for Issue Six of “Man Of Steel” disconcertingly conjures up. In fact, many readers surely must have felt that the American author’s plot to “Finale” was a far cry from the “really smoothly” paced storyline he felt he had assembled upon the printed page “when all the pieces come together like a beautiful Tetris…”
To begin with, having literally had his ‘clock cleaned’ by Rogol Zaar in this adventure’s previous instalments, Superman suddenly demonstrates a superior fighting mentality over his much stronger opponent and manages to goad the alien into a rash assault simply by informing him that the Kryptonian feels “sad for you.” This sudden ‘baiting’ immediately provides Clark Kent’s alter-ego with the opportunity to dispose of the formidably-scarred fiend’s planetary bomb and within the space of a few frames the Earth is saved and Supergirl has succinctly zapped the destroyer of Kandor into the Phantom Zone.
Just why the “timeless sensory deprivation tank” wasn’t used before by Kara Zor-El straight after “the big baddie” ‘trashed’ the Fortress of Solitude is only fleetingly touched upon by Bendis, yet worryingly would suggest that his incarnation of the titular character would rather risk the lives of every person on the planet than utilise so straightforward a solution to Rogol’s threat simply because “it doesn’t give us any answers” as to just who his assailant was? This self-centredness, which appears additionally misplaced when Superman subsequently chides his cousin for tossing the villain into the “inter-dimensional realm” (and resultantly saving the planet), surely must have grated upon the nerves of some bibliophiles, as it would seem to oppose the very core of Jerry Siegel’s co-creation and merely be used as a contrived excuse to extend the main protagonists’ battle; “I wasn’t considering the Phantom Zone because it’s only a band aid.”
Long-suffering fans must also have been just as disappointed with the Cleveland-born writer’s revelation as to “the fate of Lois and Jon”, with mother and child just deciding to spend some time with Kal-El’s biological father, Jor-El. Admittedly, their tearful departure apparently provides artist Jason Fabok with the opportunity to pencil “an intentional homage to the last panel of Superman #423 during the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” event by illustrating Kent grieving after his family. But it’s hardly the most disastrous of outcomes, especially when compared to some of this title’s previous catastrophes, like Kandor’s demise or the utterly bizarre accusation at this comic’s very end where a small child blames the Metropolis Marvel for starting the city’s recent spate of fires…