Story-Arc: The Truth Revealed.
WRITER(S): Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka & Jody Houser.
ILLUSTRATOR(S): Ivan Reis, Kevin Maguire, David Lafuente, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Julio Ferreira, Michael Gaydos, Scott Godlewski, Cully Hamner, Bryan Hitch, Steve Lieber, Jim Mahfood, Danny Miki, Mike Norton, Mike Perkins & Riley Rossmo.
Colourist(s): Paul Mounts, Alex Sinclair, Ivan Plascencia, Nathan Fairbairn, Gabe Eltaeb, Dave McCaig, Andy Troy, Michael Gaydos & Jim Mahfood.
Letterer: Dave Sharpe, Andworld Design, Troy Peteri, Clayton Cowles, Simon Bowland, Tom Napolitano & Josh Reed.
PUBLISHER: DC COMICS.
RELEASE DATE: MAY 26TH, 2020.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆.
Previously in the Superman series:
Superman (Vol. 1): The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth by Brian Michael Bendis.
Superman (Vol. 2): The Unity Saga: The House of El by Brian Michael Bendis.
Event Leviathan by Brian Michael Bendis.
They say the truth is liberating. That it is the best policy to follow. That it soothes the soul and replenishes you with life. At what cost? Individuals often egotistically judge the pertinence of the truth before sharing it with those who are concerned. They ponder the consequences of the truth and act according to their own limited understanding of its impact on others. While some remain convinced in their decision to either tell or withhold the truth, others fall in a suffocating case of regret and suffer from their decision. Would always telling the truth make for a happier world as everyone would be allowed to do what they want with what they now know? What if the truth could be harmful? Legendary writer Brian Michael Bendis continues his journey with the Man of Steel and destroys the status quo by leading Superman into doing the unthinkable: to tell his truth to the whole universe.
What is Superman: The Truth Revealed about? Collecting Superman #16-19, Superman: Heroes #1, and Superman: Villains #1, this volume picks up where things were left off in The House of El story arc and begins by sending off Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s son Jon Kent (Superboy) into a new chapter in his life set in the 31st century in the hopes to lead the Legion of Super-Heroes. The story then bounces back to Superman as he embraces his new role as the President of the Earth and begins to question his own values and way of life. This is where his reflection leads him to wonder about his double life as Clark Kent. How does a man who stands for the truth continue to hide the one thing that he’s kept from the public eye: his human identity. This thus introduces the DC universe to a whole new reality in the midst of the Invisible Mafia and Leviathan’s threats where Superman’s identity is known to all.
It’s an odd decision to include the epilogue chapter on Jon Kent’s new adventure as the introduction to this volume but it serves as an excellent reminder of one of the biggest changes in Superman’s life as he once again figuratively loses his son who wishes to embrace his young adult life earlier than expected. As tough of a decision it might be to leave his loved ones and take on humongous responsibilities in a time and place that he has never known before, this remains a journey that will likely shape his legacy forever. Before his final goodbyes, his long-dreaded confrontation with Damian Wayne, his best friend who completes the Super Sons team, was a bit more than awkward than expected but remained heart-warming as we see these two have a heart-to-heart that no one would have ever truly understood beside themselves.
“I have taken the precaution of always surrounding myself… With partners, friends, and peers that always… Tell me the real truth.”
– Brian Michael Bendis
The story then shifts back to Superman and tackles the very premise of this volume where he contemplates a question that has often been too complex to solve for any masked superhero, one that forces them to acknowledge the consequences that the revelation of their true identity could have on themselves and their loved ones. However, writer Brian Michael Bendis does an exquisitely meticulous job in handling this idea that would otherwise seem blasphemous. He covers all the angles, even those regarding the insanity of the act, which is an opinion shared by Batman, and delivers it in a composed and structured fashion. From allowing Superman to discuss and reveal it to those he cares about it first before a universal press conference to giving us insight into the Man of Steel’s mind as he comes to term with the idea, there is utmost care in the execution that shows writer Brian Michael Bendis understands the character more than ever before.
Although most of my appreciation for this volume goes into the main chapters tackling the grand reveal, there’s no denying the flaws of this volume. The artwork unexpectedly suffers greatly from the number of artists on this volume and this mostly comes as a shock when previous volumes in the Superman or Action Comics series pleasantly kept one artist for each story arc. In this volume, for example, Superman issue #16 with the Super Sons has David Lafuente on it and he utilizes an extremely cartoon-like visual style that makes it harder to take the two heroes (Robin and Superboy) seriously. The main story is then split in a 1:2 ratio between artist Kevin Maguire and Ivan Reis, and the latter, as expected from his usual work, delivers a much more satisfying style that helps writer Brian Michael Bendis to deliver his greatest change to Superman’s lore with tact and consideration.
The final two issues (Heroes #1 and Villains #1) were also a bit detrimental to the overall quality of this volume. They all add incredibly short sub-plots featuring various characters and their respective reaction to Superman’s unveiling of his secret identity. A couple of them manage to instigate some interesting questions on how they always felt about Superman and his actions and their new perspective on the subject now that they know that the man behind the cape is just a puny human. Of course, the two issues came with an incredible amount of variety in terms of artists as each flip of a page was almost drawn by a different artist. Some are far more impressive than others but ultimately allow no room for any form of consistency in style.
With this volume, writer Brian Michael Bendis completely changes the game for heroes and villains alike. No one truly knows how to react to such a revelation and very few know what kind of trouble it could possibly bring. But that’s where things get interesting and pave the way to new stories that could only be interesting to explore henceforth. Is Superman/Clark Kent ready to deal with this new life?
Superman: The Truth Revealed is the collapse of the status quo as the world’s most famous hero enters the spotlight forever with belief in transparency, honesty, and justice.