Superman: The Truth Revealed by Brian Michael Bendis

details
TITLE: Superman.
Volume: 3.
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.

FORMAT: HARDCOVER.
RELEASE DATE: MAY 26TH, 2020.
PAGES: 192.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
ISBN13: 9781401299699.

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.

thoughts

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.


EXHIBITA
THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

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40 comments

  • Holy smokes, that is a complete sea change! I know that they keep on changing things, but this seems something so fundamental that changing it will truly change the very definition of Superman. I can’t say I’m in favor of that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I was eager to find out what kind of reaction you were going to have with this one too hahahah I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing but I’m curious to see what kind of stories will come from such a change in his character. Guess we’re going to find out with the following volumes in Superman and Action Comics, huh? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess part of my reaction is that Clarke Kent has always been a fully fledged character in my opinion, so to wipe him out like that just doesn’t sit right.

        I do wonder if this change will be a lasting one or one that just gets re-set at whatever the next big “change the universe” event that DC makes happen.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s most likely going to be rebooted at the next big reboot by DC (like The New 52 and this Rebirth did). I don’t think we’ll get another Flashpoint event either to screw things around though. Who knows. But I’m sure all this won’t remain permanent in the long term. Even in Tom King’s Batman, for example. If I hadn’t already mentioned it in previous review about the huge death that was badly executed (pun intended), I’ll say it here, Bane gets Alfred killed. Now, if anyone thinks this kind of move is permanent and not just part of TOM KING’s run, something’s wrong hahah

          Liked by 1 person

  • Huh, so Bendis finally does deliver! 😀 I’m happy your reading bore sweet fruit at last, and not that potato-tasting apples – filling, but not exactly a symphony of taste – that you had before in Bendis’ Superman run.

    On the other hand, I’m not much for the whole presidential thing, the power is a very tricky stuff and having a super-powerful alien as a president sounds a bit suicidal… But we’ll see, I guess 😉

    As for the big reveal, my policy is wait and see. I remember many instances where such decisions were niftily changed post-factum (yes, Spider-Man, I’m talking about you!) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mean… I think I could’ve dropped a star on this one due to all the peripheral issues that sort of kill the main story but I wanted to express my appreciation for this ambitious decision more than critique the additional content hahah

      Well, now that the world knows that Superman is Clark Kent and the general reaction to this is extremely positive around the world, Bendis seems to build up the idea that an external being is maybe better suited to manage (we aren’t yet talking about a dictature like in Red Son!!) the planet than any other humans or orange-headed creatures! 😛

      I agree. This does remind me a lot of Civil War Spidey and his public reveal during crisis events but like any other “comic book series”, they usual come to an end at some point and see a reboot too to allow other writers to try the characters out for themselves. I’ll be patient with Bendis’ Superman and Action Comics runs and see if these stories will pan out in the end hahah

      Liked by 1 person

      • Benevolent autocracy is still an autocracy 😛 This is a sort of elitism (even if enlightened enough to admit aliens, or maybe god-like beings :P) that to me smacks of a dangerous superiority/inferiority complex and even more dangerous wishful thinking 😉 But then, I spent a good part of my academic career on the themes of the dialectics between security and freedom – I am jaded 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • You must know Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes by heart then!!! 😛 It’s pretty cool that everything you read is filtered through those glasses though. It adds a level of reflection that others wouldn’t see. Especially here. It is indeed too easy to charmed by Superman and simply letting him be the self-proclaimed President of Earth. Then again, Luthor probably sees things like you too though… Hmm… 😛

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, my sociology/anthropology glasses are very tinted 😉 But, contrary to Luthor, I don’t covet that position of power for myself 😛

            Liked by 1 person

  • From what I’ve heard in the comics community, Bendis’s run has been very divisive so far. Some are enjoying it, but a number of long-term fans aren’t happy. I can’t comment on it because I haven’t read all the issues. I did pick up a copy of the issue where Superman reveals the truth to the world and I thought it was well written.

    I’m not a fan of the over-saturation of comics on the shelves because of what you mentioned in your review. Namely, the artists change around a lot. I much prefer a title with the same artist month-to-month. Releasing comics bi-monthly is not good for the creative teams nor the fans, in my opinion.

    Great review and I really like your photos of the book:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I think a lot of people weren’t ready or expecting so much change happening in Superman’s life (whether it’s related to himself or the people he loves). This one, for example, clearly wasn’t loved by all, since his secret identity has never been revealed like this before. But I’ll remain optimistic as to what Bendis plans to do next with the character. He surely won’t end it all without making everything work somehow!

      I absolutely agree with you there. It’s been a problem ever since Rebirth began over at DC. The bi-monthly schedule often leaves no room for solid story-telling and you can almost tell that there are often fillers or rushed issues delivered to fans. I wish they could change this soon but I fear that the company, unavoidably, prioritize money over anything else.

      Thank you! I appreciate that a lot hahah It’s a pleasure to be able to give everyone a glimpse into the art, especially if they are hesitant as to if they want to pick up the comic or not! 😀

      Thank you so much for reading! Really appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, you have got me really interested in the Bendis version of Superman. There is a sale on the digital issues of Bendis’s run right now, so I’ve bought a few and will read them over the next few days. Thanks for the inspiration!

        Liked by 1 person

        • You have no idea how happy I am to hear this. I’m really glad to hear that you’re giving Bendis’ run a shot! I do hope you’ll be able to appreciate it enough to keep going! 😀

          I do recommend checking out The Man of Steel by Brian Michael Bendis to see his FIRST setup story and then diving into both of his Superman series: “Superman: Action Comics” and “Superman”. It’ll help you see how he juggles both series with different stories that sometimes overlap and complement each other. And of course there’s also the “Event Leviathan by Brian Michael Bendis” that essentially sits right after both volume 2, if you wish to continue with the series! 😀 Hope you have a good time with these, sir!

          Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review my friend, and surprising – I was honestly expecting you would have a lesser opinion of this volume based on your previous Bendis Superman reviews, but please you were receptive to “The Truth”. I’m not sure why so many are upset about the reveal, I think, like with what he did on Daredevil, it feels right for the story Bendis is telling – after all the lies Superman has faced and the realisation of what he stands for. It opens up new posibilities and shakes things up as they should be every now and then. Plus, we all know Supes’ identity will be restored when Bendis concludes his run (just like we know Alfred will eventually be back in Batman).

    As a collection, I agree with your criticisms – I really wasn’t a fan of the Super Sons issue and the Heroes and Villains specials were, visually. a mixed bag. But the Ivan Reis issues, particularly #18 which is one of the greatest single comic book issues I’ve read in a long time (that dialogue-less sequence between Clark and Perry brought a tear to the eye), fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Chris! Hahaha I was almost convinced as well that it would take something special for Bendis to get me hyped up for his stuff too! 😛 Although I have to admit that all those peripheral issues did make me hesitate a lot but I went ahead and overlooked them for the sake of appreciating what Bendis was truly trying to accomplish with this volume. In fact, like you’ve mentioned, It was that very dialogue-less sequence with Clark and Perry that make me appreciate this one so much more hahaha I definitely like that he gave us good and discrete reasons to push Superman to do what he did. I’m curious to find out what he’ll be doing next.

      I too am convinced that the deaths/changes that have occurred will probably be undone in the future with other writers especially, like it’s always the case throughout the history of DC hahah

      Liked by 1 person

    • Right? You can imagine how unsafe it could be that all the villains now know who you love but hey, this is Superman, and if you dare mess with him, you better be ready hahaha And yes, exactly. I always prefer when it’s just one artist that works on one story. It makes it easier to enjoy the whole thing. There are rare exceptions where the change of art actually means something for the story but those are so rare too hahaha Thank you so much for reading, Yesha! I appreciate it so much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wow….what a fantastic review! Especially for a non-comic reader like me. You gave such an in-depth look an analysis and I’m blown away by it. I wonder why did they decide to take such a different approach, using different artists in this volume! I love anything art, which is why I love graphic novels too and no way I would want them to use different artists in one single volume!

    Like

  • It’s cool to see, despite the flaws, how much you enjoyed this one. And it’s become very obvious to me just how long it’s been and how much has changed since I read an issue of Superman. The President of the Earth??? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha yep! In the previous volume, his son creates the “United Planets” which has a similar concept as the United Nations, and for each planet in the galaxy, someone needs a representative and that’s how Superman took on the role! 😀

      Like

  • Lashaan, you nailed this review. Thank you! I love how eloquent your exploration of the concepts of truth and self-identity are.

    Sigh. My biggest pet peeve with reading comics is when artists change in a volume. I get it. I do. That’s part of reading comics! Superman is not always drawn by the same people and you need to let that part of your definition of Superman go. But… As someone who prefers to read graphic novels that are truly standalone stories, I find it jarring to switch artists when the volumes change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why, thank you so much for your kind words, Jackie! I appreciate it a lot and am glad that you took the time to read this review! 😀

      Yep. It’s also a question of how the creative team works together and what issues are collected together. In this case, some of the issues that had multiple artists aren’t part of the main issues making it normal that there is inconsistency in artwork there. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I cannot keep track of full comic story lines. I don’t know how they even decide what issues to combine together to create these omnibus collections… Do you know if there is a fleshed-out story arc before multiple artists and writers craft a longer story? Or does this happen more naturally?

        Liked by 1 person

        • It really depends on how the series evolves, the various projects on which every writer and artist is working on, the length of the run, the contracts, etc.

          Usually, one story-arc sticks with one or two artists. Sometimes, it’s not the case at all and it’s visually quite messy. Sometimes it’s intentional and has a purpose. There is no saying WHEN an artist is done with the series and someone else comes in. Usually, all this is due to how the marketing angle is structured and with DC Comics, they have a bi-monthly publication schedule for most series, making it a bit harder to artists to get things done at a pace that works for them. It’s why there’s often a lot of alternation in the creative teams.

          Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t follow DC at all so getting your perspective (and other commenters’) on the storyline is super interesting! Also like wtf, Superman becomes President of the US? In the 31st century? Screaminggg.

    I think it’s curious that as more artists are added, the artwork… gets worse? I wonder what the writers thought when hiring those artists, like, “ooh readers will like this change in style!”?? Maybe a budgeting issue?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaahah I appreciate that you still took the time to read this review, Aila! If the superhero side of comics interests you, I’m convinced that there’s definitely something out that you would enjoy. 😉

      Yep, in the previous volume, Superman’s son creates the United Planets and as every planet had a representative, Earth needed one too. That’s where Superman comes in! 😛 President of Earth! 😀

      It’s not always that it gets worse but more like it doesn’t always help in my appreciation of it hahaha There are probably plenty of reasons for the various artists and sometimes it’s just about timing, having an artist available to work on an issue. And then there’s also the fact that some of the issues collected here aren’t part of the ongoing series but one-shot stories created on the side and just collected here hahaha

      Like

  • Have you ever enjoyed something that has been drawn by different artists? 😂 It sounds like it’s never a good idea! Also, Superman’s son is really Superboy..?! 😂 Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have but usually the artwork is part of the story as the change in art fits with something that happens in the story (e.g. a character suddenly took drugs so the artwork follows his state of mind!) hahaha And yes, it’s Superboy. 😉 Supergirl is Superman’s cousin though. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • From experience, do you think that the larger group of artists working on a piece, the bigger the dissonance?
    This is off-topic, but I wanted to say that your previous posts were narrower. It was much easier to see the whole line at the same time. Now, I find myself slightly turning my head to the left and to the right as I read. Nothing big, but slightly less convenient than before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely. It’s super rare that they try to simulate a similar style to one another, which is something that I attribute to artists, this desire to not be dictated in how they want to draw, which therefore forces a clash in style. It’s why I often find it disconcerting to see multiple artistic visions within the same storyarc. In super rare cases, the various style fits the narrative and has a purpose but most of the time it doesn’t.

      I know exactly what you mean and I appreciate that you pointed it out. I have no idea why it does that now and I guess I could go tweak a couple of things to return it back to how it was before but I sort of don’t want to mess with codes right now hahahah If it does, however, REALLY impede on your reading experience, I’ll try to look into it more though. Maaaaan, these recent WordPress changes aren’t easy on anyone, are they hahah

      Liked by 1 person

        • Often it’s just a question of time and availability. Every artist is usually contracted for certain issues and if they can’t, they find someone who can and is interested. Sometimes it’s just easier to split a script and having multiple artists working on the same issue story. It’s something I’ve always had questions on myself. I should look into a non-fiction book or a documentary/video that gives us insight on what’s actually going on in the comic book industry. 😮

          Liked by 1 person

  • Ah, quite a re-invention. Superman is such an “old” character, it’s inevitable in some ways to have various types of “reveals” as years go by. I’d say this would be true for many of the classic superheroes that have been around for so long. Gotta keep ’em fresh somehow, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed. Keeping them fresh is tough with iconic heroes and sometimes you just have to explore the unexplored to see if it’ll work out in the end! To be seen if Brian Michael Bendis can deliver in the upcoming volumes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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