Superman’s allies are all trapped in organic stasis tubes and his son is nowhere to be found. The surprisingly evil telekinetic villain Cobb has Lois in a bind. And that’s when Superman shows up to save the day. But Lois is mortally wounded and Super son is still missing, held captive by a mysterious villain. Can Superman rise to the occasion and save everyone he loves?
Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason contribute the fourth part to this arc, in which everything that can go wrong for Superman does go wrong. Nothing too earth shattering here beyond an absolutely shocking injury to Lois Lane. It’s enough to make readers do a double take. And of course the big reveal on the last page - which brings a villain from the early 20th century back into the current DC Comics continuity. It’s an unexpected throwback and a sign that all bets are off.
Doug Mahnke’s pencil work is gorgeous. Lois Lane’s showdown with evil Cobb is a case in point. Although he’s a villain and possesses surprising superpowers, we see a highly detailed, pudgy farmer type, with a deceptively kind face. It’s a level of quality characterization that makes his actions extra shocking. The emotion Lois offers is achieved by the art more than the writing and it’s expressive and real. It’s driven home by the ink work of Jaime Mendoza, Mahnke and Keith Champagne. But it should be noted that a multi-page sequence looks like it was inked and colored by a completely different group of artists. It contains a stylistic shift that doesn’t appear to be intentional and instead proves to be somewhat distracting. It’s unclear what’s going on here beyond the rushed delivery of a book to its deadline.
Superman always has a lot of family drama and this issue is no exception. Like with the recent tangles featuring the villainous Mxyzptlk, it looks like the Super son will need to patch things up. But perhaps there’s a surprise in place? Readers will learn soon enough. Until then, they can enjoy the ride.