Superman: Man of Tomorrow has quickly risen to be one of DC Comics best titles. Robert Venditti and Paul Pelletier have built an intriguing world based on the best elements from the Superman franchise. One of those is the growing rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor. Venditti has gone back to basics with these two as we are getting a glimpse at the early parts of what makes Superman and Lex Luthor such iconic rivals. Each issue of Superman: Man of Tomorrow has built up this story so you know it is only a matter of time before it blows up. Will that happen now? Let’s find out with Superman: Man of Tomorrow #4.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In downtown Metropolis, Superman fights Titano. While Superman lands a punch hard enough to knock Titano down he gets distracted by protecting people from being hurt due to Titano’s size. This gives Titano the opening to temporarily knock Superman out.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor watches the entire fight between Superman and Titano go down. Once Lex sees Superman knocked out he takes the opportunity to launch his new project that will show Metropolis he is their true protector.
Back in the middle of Metropolis, Titano is about to continue his rampage. Titano is immediately stopped by the new crime neutralizing weapons LexCorp had installed in the city’s cameras. Superman recovers to find out what happened and hear Lex announce he was happy to keep Metropolis secure.
Over at the Daily Planet, Perry White reams out Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen for not reporting on the anti-super-villain partnership between Metropolis and LexCorp earlier. He gets on them that it is their job report on when contracts like this happen because it shows the pride and duty they have in their job.
After the meeting Lois sees that Clark is unhappy and takes him to the side to talk alone.
Clark admits to Lois that he may have allowed himself to be blinded by his personal feelings for Lex. He then wonders if it is bothering him because someone else saved the day. Lois tells Clark he is not being selfish and that it is their job to find out and report on if LexCorp motives are pure. Clark thanks Lois for reminding him how she is the strong one in their relationship.
Over the next three weeks Clark and Lois work on the LexCorp and Metropolis anti-super-villain partnership while the Daily Planet reports on all the villains that the security system have stopped.
One day Clark tells Lois he just got a call from a friend that the Flash just fought the Prankster, one of Superman’s villains, in Central City. Clark gets a bit depressed thinking how effective LexCorps system has been in driving super-villains out of Metropolis. Lois says that through the police department information she went through that its been eleven days since a super-villain attack. She goes on to admit that they may have let their biases get the better of them this time.
Lois tells Clark to go get some dinner while she wraps up the last of her work and she’ll meet him at the diner when she is done.
As Clark walks to the diner he sees a thief running out of the restaurant after stealing some money. The LexCorp security system suddenly turns on. Terrified, the guy admits he was just dining and dashing on his check.
Clark steps in to try to reason with the LexCorp security system to not hurt the guy. Instead the LexCorp security system just sees Clark as a bigger threat and immediately hits him with a laser blast. End of issue.
The Good: After the first four issues provided a slow build Superman: Man of Tomorrow #4 brought all of Lex Luthor’s planning to the forefront. In the process Robert Venditti begins to get into the heart of the rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor. During all that we get great character moments from everyone in this series.
The slow build for this story made the first part of “What Makes A City” such a fun read. We know when Lex Luthor activated the anti-super-villain weapon system you immediately understood this is what Venditti has been building towards up until now. Having the ability to reset the Superman franchise and shape this universe’s status quo shows how much it benefitted this series. Venditti is able to provide a modern day version of the beginning of Superman and Lex Luthor’s rivalry while maintaining the classic DC Universe feel. Thanks to that freedom Venditti was able to make the start of “What Makes A City” feel fresh and familiar at the same time.
It is also interesting that through the fight with Titano that Venditti took the chance to show that Superman could be overpowered by others not named Darkseid or Doomsday. The fight between Superman and Titano reminded me a lot of the 90s animated series for the character. In that show while Superman was extremely powerful we did see that he was able to take damage or at least knocked out by powerful weapons that weren’t kryptonite. Using Titano to show that there are villains that could at least match or knock Superman out is a nice bit of universe building.
Superman being knocked out opened the door for Venditti to put Lex Luthor’s manipulative and opportunistic personality to full use. We saw that especially on display in the first three issues of this series. And you get the idea with how happy Lex was with launching his anti-super-villain security system he was waiting for a moment where Superman was shown publicly to struggle against a villain. With the fight between Superman and Titano happening in the middle of Metropolis this was the best time to get as many people as possible to see his anti-super-villain security system at work.
Venditti further elevated this Lex Luthor plot by the way he had Perry White react to Clark, Lois and Jimmy dropping the ball on reporting about the LexCorp and Metropolis government partnership. Everything Perry said to the three was right on the money. For as mean as he came across you understood that Perry was truly pissed because he knows Clark, Lois and Jimmy can do better.
Both Lois and Clark admitting that they may have let their own biases possibly cloud their judgement on this LexCorp development was a great bit of character development. Venditti showed through the latter half of Superman: Man of Tomorrow #5 how strong this relationship is. Clark even admitting that Lois is the strong one in the relationship did well in using how we’ve seen Lois be that lightning rod for Superman in this series. Venditti does a great job writing Lois to be someone that knows what best to say in moments when Clark is not seeing things clearly. That strength continues to build on how strong Lois and Clark’s marriage is in this series.
Lex providing that he may be better at defending Metropolis than Superman is a great challenge for Clark to face. While we know that Clark is Superman because he wants to protect everyone and do what’s right, something Lois reminds him of, it is understandable that his confidence would be shaken by all this. Especially with getting a call from Flash that one of his villains left Metropolis and started committing crime over in Central City was a huge blow to him. It does bring up how effective Clark has been as Superman if he wasn’t able to get the same results earlier. This all creates greater intrigue in how Venditti is planning to build this rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor.
Paul Pelletier once again delivered excellent artwork throughout Superman: Man Of Tomorrow #5. He does such a great job showcasing the power that both Superman and Titano have. This works well in putting over how powerful LexCorp’s anti-super-villain security system is as it was able to quickly knock out Titano. Pelletier also does a great job in adding little details like how we get the version of Clark, who is in between Clark Kent and Superman, that only Lois Lane sees. The visual shifts between these version’s of Clark added a lot to where he ends up at the end of this issue.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Superman: Man of Tomorrow #5 does a fantastic job starting to payoff the slow build that has been happening with Superman and Lex Luthor’s rivalry. With this first part of “What Makes A City” Robert Venditti poses the question who is best to lead Metropolis’ future. A strong argument is made for Lex in this first part, which should make the character arc Superman goes on during this story that much stronger. The ending of Superman: Man of Tomorrow #5 was a strong cliffhanger for the next issue to pick up from.
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