Superman #25 Review

Superman is a series that started off strong but has slowly been dipping in quality the last half-dozen issues before the “Black Dawn” arc. Luckily it looks as though things are becoming going back to the high quality standard the early issues of this series set with “Black Dawn.” The return of Manchester Black has brought new life to the series and provided Superman with a challenge that has tested all his powers as a superhero. Putting Superboy in the middle of the conflict has made the battle between Superman and Manchester Black even more personal. Will Superman and his family survive the battle? Let’s find out.

Writers: Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi

Artists: Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason

Inkers: Jaime Mendoza, Mick Gray, Joe Prado, Ray McCarthy, Scott Hanna and Matt Santorelli

Colorist: Wil Quintana and John Kalisz

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Superman tries to talk Superboy back to his senses but Superboy continues to attack his father while Batman, Robin, Frankenstein and Bride take on Manchester Black’s forces.

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Robin asks Kathy about how Superboy became so powerful. Kathy says that Manchester Black is pushing Superboy’s power to its limit. At the same time Superman and Batman try to work together to get Superboy back to his senses.

On another part of the battlefield Frankenstein and Bride start remembering previous times they fought together as they mow down Manchester Black’s forces. Bride and Frankenstein go after Manchester Black but they don’t do any damage. Superboy sees what they are doing and he cuts Frankenstein’s arm off with his heat vision and freezes Bride with his frost breath. Manchester Black then proceeds to take Frankenstein apart by his seams.

Batman tells Superman that he noticed that Superboy’s body changes any time he tries to talk to his son. Batman tells Superman that he and Robin will help Frankenstein and Bride while Superman tries to save Superboy.

Manchester Black orders Superboy to bring him Superman’s cape and tells him to fly.

Superboy flies after Superman and attacks his father with heat vision and frost breath. Superboy’s heat vision attack causes part of Manchester’s Black fortress to burn up and starts to fall on top of the city below as Superman gets stuck in Manchester Blacks black goop. Superman tries to break free but is unable to. Suddenly Superboy starts saying “No you can’t. I am strong. It’s my job.”

Superboy quickly flies to the falling debris and pushes it away from the city. Superman breaks free and tells Superboy he is strong. He then tackles his son into the Quantum Reactor.

The explosion of the Quantum Reactor gives Superman and Superboy visions of alternate realities. The blue energy of the reactor suddenly strikes Superboy while Superman is confined once again.

Superboy recovers and tells Manchester Black that there is no more room for him. Superboy begins pounding on Manchester Black. He is stopped by Lois, who tells her son that she is okay. Superboy turns back to normal and hugs his mom.

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Manchester Black tries to regain control of Superboy but Kathy grabs Superboy’s hand. Kathy then turns Manchester Black’s own power against him. Manchester Black ends up in a catatonic state.

The alien leader tells Superman they would like a chance to stay in Hamilton. Superman isn’t sure after all that happened but the alien leader brings up how they aren’t that different. Superman understands and says he will give them a chance to start over and help rebuild Hamilton County.

Sometime later Superman flies over a completely rebuilt Hamilton County, which has become even more vibrant with everyone gathering for the State Fair.

The next day Clark, Lois, Jon and Kathy are standing by Manchester Black’s dead tree. Lois wonders what happened to Manchester Black. Clark says his consciousness was blasted somewhere.

Jon comments on how dead the tree is now without Manchester Black’s influence. Kathy uses her powers to bring it back to life so she and Jon can climb it.

At the top of the tree Kathy and Jon talk about the connection they felt to each other when they took down Manchester Black. Kathy then apologizes for costing Jon his powers. Jon says there is nothing to apologize as his powers will return eventually. As they look at each other Kathy wonders how she and Jon are going to get down.

Nearby Clark and Lois hear something and Clark says it looks like their son got his powers back as Krypto follows after Jon and Kathy who are flying in the sky.

Lois thinks that Jon will miss Hamilton. Clark says that he knows how Jon will feel but that Hamilton will always be home for Jon just as Smallville is for him. Clark and Lois tell each other that they love the other and kiss.

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Sometime later some Hamilton kids sneak into Cobb Family Dairy Farm and their eyes suddenly turn purple. They then give a cigarette to a cow with Manchester Black’s purple eyes.

Just as the kids are going to light the cigarette everyone, including the cow turns back to normal. The kids then decide to have fun by tipping the cow over. End of issue.

The Good: “Black Dawn” ends successfully thanks to being given enough time to make it so when we get to the ending in Superman #25 it felt truly satisfying. There was never a moment in this final issue of the “Black Dawn” arc that felt rushed. Every action that happened was given time to develop so that the developments of the story had an impact on the characters involved that was visible.

The greatest strength of Superman #25 is with the real consequences felt by the ending of the story. As the conflict with Manchester Black came to a close everyone involved had some sort of change happen to them. Whether it was the Superman Family deciding to leave for Metropolis or the aliens getting a second chance to live in Hamilton County, there was true development for everyone. That helped make the damage that Manchester Black did throughout “Black Dawn” be more meaningful as he affected the status quo of the characters we have come to know in the last 25 issues.

The battle between Superman and Superboy was the obvious stand out of this issue. Adding how each time Superman tried to talk to his son showed signs that Superboy was still inside the mind controlled version of him was well handled. The quick instance of Superboy showing his heroic side while still in a mind controlled showed how no matter how much Manchester Black tried he can’t take away what makes Jon the hero his parents are raising him to be. That showing made the flashes of the alternate timelines, one of which showed an adult Superboy and Kathy together, an even more important moment for the character.

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And having Lois Lane be the final driving force that brought Superboy back to normal was great. Though Superman helped weaken Manchester Black’s control, seeing Lois be the one to bring their son back showed us how strong that parent-child bond is. It also helped to spotlight once again that Superman is a title that is about the Kent Family as a whole and the bond the three have with one another. Now with this chapter close it makes how the three, especially Jon, adapt to living in Metropolis an even more exciting prospect.

Manchester Black never getting physically involved in the conflict also made what he was doing even more dangerous. Seeing how he had no care for Frankenstein and Bride’s attack on him made his wicked smile come off as something that made his face even more punchable. It definitely made the moment that Kathy and Superboy were able to take him down worth it. And while we see him take out of commission it is a good thing to still possibly have Manchester Black out in the wild. The character is a strong addition to Superman’s Rogues Gallery and could have some interesting interactions with the likes of Lex Luthor in the future.

Ending things on a sweet moment with Superboy and Kathy saying their final goodbyes to one another was a great payoff to the two childhood friends growing relationship. Tomasi and Gleason did a good job in using this experience as a way to strengthen their friendship. It was also an interaction that helped further develop Jon as we see how he is slowly maturing as a character with how he did not show any hatred towards Kathy. While it looks as though this is the last we will see of Kathy in an ongoing supporting character role on this series I hope we see her again, possibly in Super Sons.

The artwork throughout Superman #25 maintained a strong consistency even as we had multiple inkers and colorist working with Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason. Everyone did a great job making sure there was never a moment that the artwork did not have any shocking differences. Mahnke and Gleason have very similar styles and brought out the big event nature of this chapter in the Superman family’s life. They definitely made Manchester Black’s plot feel like world breaking thing that was still contained to Hamilton County.

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The Bad: Frankenstein and Bride were the only things that felt out of place during this arc and it was the same in Superman #25. Though they are strong allies they didn’t add anything to the actual story like Batman and Robin did. With how easily Superboy and Manchester Black took them apart they just came off as canon fodder rather than developed characters who made the story better with their inclusion.

Overall: Superman #25 was a strong ending to the “Black Dawn” arc. Manchester Black was a fantastic villain that almost destroyed the Superman Family but was defeated by the strong bond Superman, Superboy and Lois Lane share with one another. Now with the Superman Family moving to Metropolis it looks like things may become even more hectic as they move back to a familiar setting.