When last we left Superman, Mon-El had been beaten up, a bomb had gone off, Lane’s plan was revealed to us, and Superman himself, back on Earth for a brief time, had tried to stop a Kryptonian agent from a devastating strike. And while this issue is in many ways a direct follow up to that, it feels painfully schizophrenic in doing so. The world now believes Mon-El to be dead, a water shortage has caused its value to skyrocket, everyone thinks Superman is a traitor, Lane is a national hero, John Henry Irons is in a coma and Zatara has been kidnapped, taken to an alternate dimension, and is being pumped for infor… wait, what?
Before “Codename: Patriot”, Robinson’s Superman was a stellar blend of action and drama that managed to turn Mon-El and the Guardian into compelling characters. Now, we skip entire story-lines – such as the Zatara one – and get our exposition through psychopathic rants from Morgan Edge, who spend the entire issue enraged and half-shaven and just generally looking homeless. Anti-Kryptonian sentiment runs rampant as Edge and Lane stir up an insultingly jingoistic humans-first agenda, but the plot is missing exactly what Robinson normally does best: the human touch. Frankly, every single one of us knows how the bulk of this story will play out. What we don’t know is, how are the people in Metropolis reacting? Why?
Unfortunately, when a book’s scope magnifies and the crossovers begin, one of the first things we lose is almost always that human element. New artist Fernando Dagnino is given little to do with this issue, so it’s hard to judge how well he’ll fit on the title. His brief action scenes seem competent, but then, his Morgan Edge looks like a complete lunatic. Though it is impossible for me to make any long-term statements about him on this title and nothing in the issue sets him apart as a particular talent, he does a fine job with illustrating most of what Robinson throws his way.
Pre-“Codename: Patriot”, Superman was only a crossover in name. It was given space to explore its own world and tell its own stories, and it had a great deal of potential there. With “Patriot” come and gone, however, the book is rushing headlong into the master-plot. If that master-plot was fascinating, perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem, but Superman is offering nothing you haven’t seen before. It isn’t terrible, it’s just painfully average.
– Cal Cleary