Superman #41 The Last Days

Written by, James Robinson

Art by, Ed Benes

Colors by, Dinei Riberio

Letters by, Rob Leigh

Overall Score 7

Reviewed by, Tom Zimm

Recap

In the previous issue, Superman and Superboy travel to an alien planet to help save its citizens before the planet explodes. When they arrive, the leaders of the planet send them away stating that their god will save them. When Superman refuses to leave, the leaders attack him and Superboy due to their blasphemy toward their god. Superman and Superboy escape and in the process meet a scientist who educates them on the religious beliefs of the planet and how they sometimes get in the way of scientific discovery.

This issue picks up where the last story ends. Superman and Superboy are being chased by a group of religious zealots. They are with a scientist, Mr. Klein.  The scientist’s wife was killed, along with a number of other scientists, by these zealots who consider their pursuit of science disrespectful to their god.

The story continues. Mr. Klein takes Superman and Superboy to his hidden laboratory at the bottom of a large body of water. He shows them the rocket he’s built and the orb which contains eggs, which are his children. In addition, he’s developed a way to store important parts of his wife’s memories in order to teach their children once they are born. However, their pursuers find them. Superman sends Jonathan off planet with the orb while he fights them off. Tragically, Mr Klein dies.

Prior to his death, Mr. Klein and Superman talk about the possibility for science and God to coexist, and they do not have to be mutually exclusive. Before leaving the planet, Superman has one more conversation with the leaders. Superman comes to an agreement with the leaders that science and religion don’t have to be in conflict with each other. The leaders admit that it was wrong for them to keep him from leaving the planet and for trying to kill him. Superman expresses his hope to still save them. Despite Superman’s hopes, the planet explodes, and the people die. Superman leaves the planet unharmed and goes to find Jonathan. They mourn over the people’s choice to not leave. Jonathan asks if he should believe in God. Superman says that it’s a personal decision but that he believes in some kind of higher power.

 

Final Impressions

The art in this book supported  this kind of story which takes place on an alien planet. The colors and tones support and enhance the emotional undertones of the panels throughout. At the end of the book, Superman and Jonathan grieve over the death of a planet. The art depicts a universe of stars and galaxies in the background which reinforces how small Superboy feels given that he couldn’t save the planet.  

The dialogue and storytelling in this issue was ok. At times, concepts were paint-by-numbers and focused on telling the reader what to think, especially the conversation between Mr. Kein and Superman about the need for god and science to coexist. It’s not that that concept is wrong, it’s that the dialogue was tell, not show. In addition, the author clumsily takes religious beliefs and scientific beliefs, flips them in in order to flush out hypocrisy. For example, the religious zealots pictured on the cover are begging that Superman allow them to die; to commit suicide. This is a play on religion, some earthly religions consider it immoral to die by suicide. These kinds of twists come across as heavy-handed versus complex or nuanced and therefore feel preachy. Overall this two-story arc has been a pass for me.