Writer Gene Luen Yang serves us some Silver Age shenanigans in the most recent chapter of “The Savage Dawn” storyline. “Superman” #48 is a fun read that twists one of the Super-tropes in an interesting way.
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Howard Porter and Ardian Syaf
“The Savage Dawn” continues! Time is running out, and Superman must make a fateful choice! Can he risk exposing himself to the one thing that could save him: Kryptonite?
“The Savage Dawn” epic that has been running through the Super-books takes a breather with “Superman” #48 despite showing the consequences of Clark attempting to use Kryptonite as a way to build his strength instead of killing him. This, along with various instances of corny dialogue, bring a touch of the Silver Age to a story involving the villain Vandal Savage. Each of the Super-writers are having fun with one of the best DC villains and Gene Luen Yang is no exception. There is plenty of action involved in this issue and the addition of Wonder Woman’s ex brings up issues that aren’t only related to love.
Yang expresses his adoration for Superman as well as the DC universe by the addition of two relatively obscure villains of old and one heroine’s buddy. Yang, which he has shown throughout his run on “Superman” so far, has focused on one thing missing from many comics: a sense of fun. Gadgets, military intrigue, hero-murdering crystals, and a classic villain pushing our hero’s life to the very edge of oblivion is evident in “Superman” #48. This issue has a lot of action and, despite it having less heart than usual, still has the ingredients of heroism and excitement that make for a solid superhero book.
There is a disjointed feel to “Superman” #48’s art. The two artists on the book are vastly different from one another and the regular artist, Howard Porter, is more successful of the two. Ardian Syaf supplies the art for the first ten pages and the inconsistency can be jarring. He has a strong grasp of the action scenes but his characters’ facial expressions are sometimes stiff or have an unfinished quality. The inking by Don Ho and Jerome K. Moore is not as smooth as Porter’s inking of his own work, which also contributes a less defined look to Syaf’s pencils.
Porter, however, powerfully depicts the scope of Clark’s situation. His distinct style in the final twelve pages is big enough of a departure from Syaf’s pencils that it appears as if we’ve entered another issue. Porter’s action scenes are crisp, expressive, and compel us to feel for a depowered Clark as he suffers through what has to be one of his worst ordeals. The smooth, classic features of Superman degrade toward the haggard and gaunt look of a man close to death. A page of dialogue between Clark and Steve Trevor as they discuss their past love includes facial expressions that include looks of regret and hints of slight anger, sadness, and defensiveness. Porter can handle the human moments with as much nuance as the super action-packed ones.
Porter’s pencils would not be as resounding of a success if not for Hi-Fi’s colors. From Clark’s sickly colored skin to the green that bursts from the final page, Hi-Fi has us believing that the stakes are the highest they have ever been for our hero and his world. They color Porter’s art appropriately, whether a detailed robot requires just as detailed coloring to make it look intimidating and complex beyond all reasoning. Although Porter’s pages are set in a confined space, Hi-Fi still succeed in lending a grandiosity to the proceedings. Hi-Fi are even successful at illuminating and advancing Syaf’s pencils.
“Superman” #48 is another example of the current Superman family of books attempting and succeeding at trying something new and imaginative with a character that has a decades-long history. With the classic villain Vandal Savage, Yang and the rest of the “Superman” team have built a story that has that familiar Silver Age touch added to something that feels fresh and new for the Man of Steel.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Although the first ten pages don’t compare to the final twelve, “Superman” #48 is another fine example of the artistic success that has been coursing through the Superman books.