After the shocking events of Superman #23, Superman battles the returning Manchester Black in “Black Dawn” part 5. Convinced young Jonathan can be the better Superman (an Elite) under Black’s influence, Black attempts to control the boy and have him battle his father.
Manchester Black’s return has been a controversial one. However, I appreciate his return and what the character brings to these books. I love characters that can challenge Superman on a moral and intellectual level and Black does that. That he is a factor in Superman’s life now that Lois and Clark have a son raises the stakes. His motivation of wanting to be a mentor to Jonathan and his belief that he can mold Jonathan into a ‘better’ Superman that is willing to do whatever it takes is fascinating. In some ways, Black is a perfect foil for Superman. He is the voice of a jaded audience. He asks the questions that readers may have, such as why Superman doesn’t kill and take things to the next level. In asking those questions, we get to see Superman shine in how he responds. It is actually a perfect time for Black to show up as we have seen Jonathan make “mistakes” recently and we get to find out if Jonathan is on the right path and will be a hero/character with the same moral fiber as his father.
While we don’t know exactly how this storyline will end, I do have faith in this creative team. The Superman and Action titles have been consistently great since Rebirth started. They are speaking to the fans and righting the wrongs of the new 52 incarnation of the character. We are getting fresh storylines with the inclusion of Jonathan and the relationship between Lois and Clark adds a grounded humanity to these books.
Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason are both credited on pencils, so the book is mildly inconsistent. I only noticed the difference in the flashback scenes and prior to the appearance of Black. However, the art flows wonderfully and manages to balance action with emotional scenes effectively. I was gripped by this issue and the detailed and creatively framed art contributed to my enjoyment.
The cover is incredible. I love the perspective and the way the light bleeds onto Lois and Superman from Jonathan. Lois reaching and screaming for Jonathan is a nice touch. This is one of the more memorable Superman covers in recent memory.
While not quite as shocking as issue 23, the ending of this issue is something to see and I was genuinely disappointed that I have to wait for the conclusion. This is a great issue and a very worthy purchase. I give this issue 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Written by Patrick Gleason & Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Doug Mahnke & Patrick Gleason
Published by DC Comics