Superman has been pretty busy the last few months as he learned the truth about his father, traveled to Apokolips with his family and Lex Luthor and most recently teamed up with the Teen Titans to take on Future Tim Drake. And that is not even mentioning what he is currently going through in DC’s two big events, Dark Nights: Metal and Doomsday Clock. So with so much going on what else could Superman have time for? Let’s find out with Superman #39.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artist: Barry Kitson
Inker: Barry Kitson and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Gabriel Eltaeb
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Metropolis Superman fights the Demolition Team. While the Demolition Team try to use their numbers advantage Superman is able to overpower and take each member out.
Superman then heads to the Metropolis Children’s Cancer Center to spend the day with the children. Superman has Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) help him deliver a day the kids will never forget.
Superman and Green Lantern take the kids up to the Watchtower where they meet the rest of the Justice League. As the kids spend the day with the Justice League, Superman decides to create a scavenger hunt on the Watchtower for them. They end up completing the entire scavenger hunt, including getting a picture of a smiling Batman.
Superman then takes all the kids to the moon where he has them all write their names on individual rocks. Superman and the kids then spend time watching the Earth from the moon. End of issue.
The Good: Superman #39 is a perfect example of how you do not need an end of the world conflict to create an intriguing story. Superman visiting children with cancer and giving them an experience of a lifetime with the Justice League was an absolute homerun. Even though the story was simple Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason packed the issue with examples of what makes Superman such a special character.
One thing that gets lost in all the incredible things we see Superman do in all the comics he appears in is how everyone else perceives him. While we know he is the ultimate hero we don’t get a lot of chances to see Superman interact with non-superheroes or villains. And when we do it’s usually a journalist, cop, government official or business leader. This fact added to what made Superman #39.
In giving us a look at how children see Superman and the Justice League Tomasi and Gleason remind us how these characters are larger than life heroes. The simple excitement when the lead kid found out Superman came to visit everyone at the hospital came off as genuine. That excitement was carried into the rest of the issue as you felt happy to see the kids hang out with the Justice League.
Tomasi and Gleason did a good job in making this meet-and-greet mean just as much to the Justice League. This is a light moment that the team does not really get with how often they are pulled into an end of the universe conflict. Having down time to enjoy the company of the kids was clearly something that impact the entire team as much as it did for the children. That was perfectly punctuated by the phenomenal ending featuring Superman and the kids watching the Earth from the moon together.
Seeing Superman take the lead in the meet-and-greet portion was a good move to remind us that he was the driving force of what was happening. Him taking the time to create a scavenger hunt that involved the kids getting various items representing the Justice League was fantastic. It was made even better by the fact that one of those items turned out to be a rare picture of a smiling Batman. This gave way for a great fan service moment of Batman smiling because of a joke the kids told.
It was also great to have Barry Kitson back drawing a DC comic book as he is at home with the DCU characters. Kitson has a classic style that makes the story of Superman #39 pop more. The bright colors helped drive home how this was a story filled with positivity for children that are dealing with a cancer. The way he drew the kids also made it so it felt like we were experience the story through their eyes rather than Superman’s.
The Bad: The one thing that keep Superman #39 from being a perfect issue was the opening battle. With what the core story was the battle with the Demolition Team felt overly long and unnecessary. It didn’t help that the villainous team was one-dimensional and did not have anything special to them. They were just the villain of the week and never got past that vibe. Instead it would’ve been better to see the page count given to the Justice League meet-and-greet so we saw how the other team members had fun with the kids.
Overall: Superman #39 is an incredible treat from beginning to end. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason deliver a touching story featuring Superman and the Justice League giving children dealing with cancer an incredible day of experiences. This is a must read comic book that every DC Comics fan should pick up immediately.