Man of Steel #3 review

Having discovered that at least one Kryptonian survived the destruction of Krypton, alien zealot Rogol Zaar heads to Earth, where he ravages Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. He’s apparently been doing research, because he’s not surprised to find the last surviving city of Krypton, shrunk and placed inside a bottle. 

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Batman has arrived to help Superman and new fire chief Melody Moore investigate a spate of fireraising. Suddenly, Superman is called away. 

The Fortress has been devastated. Guardian robot Kelex can likely be repaired but it seems Zaar has murdered thousands. Supergirl arrives to find her cousin on the brink of falling apart. 

Terrified at what such a foe might do next, Superman gives Kara advice. 

He heads to Metropolis, deducing that his unknown foe wants a show fight. He’s up for it...

... have the people of Kandor really been annihilated? It certainly seems so, in which case that’s a big strike against new Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis. I’ll reserve judgement, as I can’t believe he’d fridge an entire people simply to convince those of us who aren’t buying that Krypton was destroyed by Rogol Zaar that this monster is the biggest threat Superman and Supergirl have ever faced. As this issue’s recitation of lesser-known Kryptonians shows, Bendis has done his research, which means he’ll have read the classic Superman #338, in which the Metropolis Marvel did indeed enlarge Kandor; that tale was called ‘Let My People Go’ - it has to resonate with the famously Jewish writer. 

Let’s look at the rest of the story. I didn’t mention in my recap that we see another second of the recent day something terrifying appeared before Clark, Lois and Jon because it interrupts a narrative that’s getting really interesting. Frustratingly, most of the page is taken up with what we’ve already seen. Apart from that, we get this. 

Brainiac? Has he taken Lois and Jon, shrunk them in a bottle? That would certainly explain why the apparent destruction of Kandor motivates the memory. Or perhaps it’s the long-unseen Kryptonite Man, also bald, and given to emanating a green glow. We’ll know soon. 

On the one hand, I love the quickly established love between Kara and Kal. On the other, we have this panel:

It’s as if Bendis hasn’t read any of the last Supergirl series, which went on hiatus with #20 - Supergirl currently has adoptive parents, a sorta boyfriend, school pals, various DEO associates... 

I think my favourite scene this time is Superman arriving in Metropolis, working out what his enemy is up to; it’s a nice example of our hero’s intelligence. 

I don’t care about the arson business, it seems too mundane a pull on Superman’s time - the new fire chief knows what she’s doing. Otherwise, and assuming the Kandor bit is a feint, this is another excellent issue, furthering the Rogol Zaar storyline while bringing Supergirl into the story and taking it for granted that she’s her cousin’s partner, not his junior. 

Jason Fabok returns to do the Jon and Lois flashback, with the rest of the issue pencilled by Ryan Sook. And boy, is it gorgeous. The compositions serve the story while Superman looks amazing - ridiculously handsome, but approachable. Supergirl seems slightly older than she’s looked in her own book, but not off-model. I hope this approach sticks, because I’ve always liked Supergirl as a young woman rather than a mid-teens heroine. 

Sadly, the Jim Lee-designed Rogol Zaar still looks dumb, like Doomsday kitted out in Lobo’s cast-offs (a skull belt buckle, really?). I can’t see him becoming a classic villain... mind, I said that about the utterly stupid Bane, and look what happened there. 

While most of this issue is fully illustrated by Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger inks three pages, and they match the rest of the story well. Alex Sinclair’s colours add mood and impact, while Josh Reed letters with style. The cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Sinclair is lessened by cheesy copy, but it’s a decent enough image. 

We’re halfway through this mini-series and it certainly has my attention. I just hope Bendis doesn’t become known as ‘The maniac who killed Kandor’. 


Man of Steel #3 review, Superman, Brian Michael Bendis, Ryan Sook, Josh Reed, Jason Fabok, Alex Sinclair, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Supergirl, Rogol Zaar, DC Comics


  1. Bendis' Marvel history was full of him killing of important characters to start his run, and then (fairly unconvincingly) bringing them back to life before he finished with the title. So even if we believe Kandor is destroyed and everyone dead, odds are he's just handwave it all away in a couple of years.

    1. The Kandorians are likely in a cupboard in Mittle Europe with Agatha...

  2. I hadn't realized Kandor even existed in this reboot, so it's a tossup between destroying a beloved part of the franchise and bringing in a character that was only seen in one panel 5 years ago and trying to milk the death for no result. An odd choice. Zaar's face is awfully derivative, at times looking like Swamp Thing, Arcane, Deathlok, and Syzygy from The Price (Dreadstar), but not as good as any of them.

    Again Lois & Jon seem to be off-world simply because Clark is not concerned for their safety in any way. Dude's bald - surely not Luthor? That would make him privy to Superman's identity.

    The art continues to be the very best thing about the series, and it's amazing.

    1. Maybe it’s a future Clark and they’re all horrified that he’s lost his lovely locks!

  3. Interesting. I think I liked this issue more than you.
    I was shocked at the Kandor annihilation but as I didn't remember right away if they were in continuity, I don't think I minded it as much as you. Those characters were 'dead' (in comic limbo) to me already!

    As you say, the easy nature of the Kal/Kara team-up was the big grab for me. They clearly know each other and love each other. My guess is Kara's 'I don't have much of a life' was more teen angst than Bendis missing the point. I took it to mean that most of Kara's family are DEO related, more than capable of taking care of themselves. That leaves just her besties.

    I find the arson subplot more interesting than Zaar to be honest. To think that a world-beater like Superman can be defeated by street crime that he can't solve is an interesting wrinkle.

    And the pilot of the ship? I thought hypertime Superman in the Ultima Thule. Too Morrison?

    Sook is brilliant. And boy, he makes Moore look a lot like Lana.

  4. Great comments as ever. I look forward to your review tomorrow at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

    I hope Morrison concepts aren’t involved, it would muddy things somewhat.

  5. Hmmm... Like Anj, I didn't realize Kandor was around again. But since they are, well, of course Zaar would have to go after them. It's his mission statement.

    That said...I'm not convinced the Kandorians are dead. For one thing, we never see any microsopic bodies, only a ruined city. For the second, Superman, in all his internal narration, NEVER uses the word dead or killed. We get "I promised to find a way for them to start a life... to blossom and bloom but it -- it was -- it was beyond me." And then we get "I know all the Kandorian names. Every one of them." And then he starts listing names, as if in memory of the dead. I think that's a great misdirection, since assuming they're dead is an absolutely natural thing to do. And yet it's NEVER stated outright.

    So these people could be captured by Zaar as hostages. That's entirely possible. All the other Kryptonians he's killed haven't had Superman and Supergirl's powers, so it's natural that he'd want a tactical edge against them.

    So count me as as someone who doubts the Kandorians are dead at all. And hopefully Sylvia DeWitt, the Earth woman who fell in love with Van-Zee and shrank down to live with him, isn't dead either.

    1. Rob, thanks for giving me hope. The choice of named Kandor folk is interesting - an unmarried Sylvia, bad girl Lesla-Lar and so on. Either Brian Bendis had a random list or he’s showing that Superman does indeed care about everybody.


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