I had every reason to like this issue.  Tomasi and Gleason are one of the most reliable teams DC has, and Manke and Gleason are two of my favorite DC workhorse artists.  Both are capable of delivering impactful art in high and low detail.  Beyond that, though, I need you to understand how much I love Joe Kelly, the man responsible for the creation of Manchester Black.  Joe Kelly is possibly the most underrated writer of the last 20 years, and, if you liked the Deadpool movie, you should thank Joe Kelly (and Ed McGuinness).  Manchester Black is probably my favorite Superman villain created after the seventies, and it’s not lost on me that DC incorporated the Wildstorm characters that The Elite were analogs/commentaries on… which were themselves analogs/commentaries on DC’s own JLA… [sigh].  Comic books are an infinite, navel gazing Inception dream, but I digress.  Onward.

I hate to start on a negative note, but the scene transition between Clark and Lois to the confrontation with Black was jarring.  Ideally, the art should only switch up when it assists the story.  Also, some of Manke’s work got really rough towards the middle.  The colorists did a great job with the mood, and worked wonders with a rushed and inconsistent pencil job.

Despite some questionable art choices, this issue really worked for a lot of reasons.  The characterizations were great, and we got some stellar moments.  The cigarette lighting scene is magic, as was “Sic em.”

The dialogue was on point.  I love Superman saying, “I could kill you,” as opposed to “I’ll kill you.”  That’s a smart writing choice.  Superman and Black both sounded very much like themselves, and created exciting foils for each other.  This is the type of comic that draws people in and makes them into comic book fans.  Great characterization, fantastic moments, and nods to the past for the continuity junkies.

Overall, points off for shaky art choices, but not many.  The art does feel rushed, but, like I said, a rush job from Gleason or Manke is still better than most.  For reasons previously stated, 3 & 1/2 out of 5 stars.  Solid effort from solid veterans. I’ll be back next month.

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