Superman had been on an unexpected cool streak following the strong Black Dawn arc. Even with the regular writing team taking a break, issue #29 is much more in line with the quality readers have come to expect with one of DC’s best titles.
I kind of wish the cover didn’t give away so much as this would have been a nice development to see unfold throughout the issue. Metropolis has seen a rash of child disappearances. That’s a scenario that especially hits home with Superman, whose biggest weakness now might be his family over Kryptonite. It’s enough to trigger a subtle influx of fear, making for a perfect breeding ground for the return of a fear-based enemy.
Writer Keith Champagne, taking a break from his regular ink responsibilities, pens a strong Superman story. Readers have gotten spoiled by the work of writers Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi (and Dan Jurgens on Action Comics) so it was refreshing to see another writer nail the Rebirth era Superman so smoothly.
Champagne writes Superman confident, but vulnerable to basic human emotions the likes that any parent can relate. It’s not hard to imagine Superman frantically trying to solve this mystery. Champagne makes good use of Superman’s powers beyond flying and punching.
This story plays into the strengths of artist Doug Mahnke, who ascended to the upper ranks of DC’s top artist with his work on Green Lantern. Mahnke draws fear victims like few other and there’s a creepiness to his work here that fits the story beautifully. With the artwork a little shaky in the last few issues, it was great to see Mahnke back to get the visuals back on track.
There’s a fun surprise on the last page that has me strongly anticipating the next issue. Superman is back to being exciting again. All is right in the DC Rebirth universe.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10