What is this all about?
In this issue, Deathstroke arrives in Metropolis to threaten Lois in order to draw Superman into a fight. His enhanced suit fails early in the engagement with Superman, however, his determination to meet his objective does not. The initial encounter between Superman and Deathstroke sets the tone for the book. Superman is confronted by a foe who lacks fear, thus exposing his greatest fear: losing Lois.
The story begins with Superman locked in a fight with Deathstroke. Superman seems reactive as his face wears his emotions while his thoughts are centered on the threat to Lois. Deathstroke is calculating and anticipating when the adrenaline rush fades and Superman begins to think. How would Superman have been so easily manipulated? Superman’s obsession with Lois’ safety distracts him. Deathstroke disengages from the initial battle leaving Superman the opportunity to regroup.
Clark and Lois take a moment to discuss the predicament Slade Wilson presents to her safety. Paradoxically, Lois is not afraid. She risked her life to learn Slade Wilson’s secrets and wrote a story about what she learned. Lois is convinced that she has to live her life. Despite Clark’s worries, she is committed to doing her job which involves her taking risks. Lois also becomes impatient with Superman hovering so close to her. Seeing Superman controlled by fear is agonizing for the reader making this portion of the book a drag.
When Deathstroke re-engages Superman, he continues to needle Superman calling him the “big blue boy scout.” Deathstroke tells Superman that he’s going to have to play by his rules to win, which means having to kill. “Killing corrupts even when done for the right reasons,” Superman responds. Superman’s oath to never kill and Deathstroke’s willingness to do whatever it takes to meet his objective evens the playing field. We’ve seen this dynamic play out against Superman in the past. What makes this interesting is Slade Wilson’s backstory. His personal tragedy and loss at the hands of criminals have made him into one of the world’s greatest vigilantes.
Superman’s code, “if I kill once I kill all”, makes him vulnerable to villains who are willing to do anything to win. Deathstroke pushed Superman to the breaking point. He almost compromised on his commitment because his thoughts were filled with fear. However, ultimately Superman holds to his belief that to take a life is to destroy part of one’s self. And, with a being as powerful as Superman, to take a life leads to the destruction of worlds. Superman believes that if he cannot justify the use of deadly force because eventually, he wouldn’t know where to draw the line between justified killing and murder. Although Deathstroke had no mantra to lose, he too was pressed to the breaking point. We find out that Slade was vulnerable to Superman’s attacks throughout but remained true to his word. Why? The more appropriate question is who? (Spoilers) Amanda Waller is who. The story was compelling throughout because it taught us how our beliefs play a huge role in how we act.
Reviewed by Tom Zimm
Superman #32 Breaking Point, Part 2
Written by James Bonny
Art by: Tyler Kirkham; Colors by, Arif Prianto; Letters by, Dave Sharpe
Published by DC
Release Date: 10/4/2017