Review by Frank Plowright
The sample art is Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s first story page for Truth, and there’s no denying that a Superman bereft of powers, injured and making his way to a road where someone might pick him up is a great opener prompting questions to which anyone will want answers. It doesn’t hurt either that Kuder’s drawn a beautiful looking slab of Alaskan countryside.
However the answers aren’t provided here, as Superman’s diminished powers, compounded by being outed as Clark Kent, are explored in Superman: Before Truth. Pak leaps forward some time from Under the Skin to a Superman that can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but no longer fly, and can punch out some neighbourhood thugs, but can no longer punch Doomsday to the moon. A primary problem is a selection of shadow monsters that Superman might once have just blown away. Of greater interest, though, is the reaction to Superman being revealed and the problems it causes. A section of the Metropolis police force are especially aggrieved.
Superman operating with lower power levels remains a formidable hero, and Kuder’s visual approach is to show him with the cuts and bruises acquired as a consequence of still being a hero, even though he now wears a t-shirt with the Superman logo. Kuder may need some other artists drawing a few pages at a time to help him out, but that’s worth it for the glorious visions he has. There’s one spread consisting of the folk from a Metropolis neighbourhood sitting around on crates in the streets listening to Superman. There’s no action and no threat, just a gloriously composed piece of art. If being a great artist isn’t enough, Kuder’s also credited for the story.
Part of what makes Superman a hero is an ability to ignore angry people attacking him. That’s much harder, though, when he can be hurt, and the anger it generates is only natural, something any person would feel in those circumstances, and it’s key to Pak’s plot. So much else is also, stretching back to the first pages of his Superman run in What Lies Beneath. There’s mention of connecting the dots, and it briefly seems there’s a reason the majority of threats faced have been newly conceived by Pak, but little comes of that.
There is a variety to the menaces, and who wouldn’t want to see Superman against Frankenstein? Unfortunately there’s not enough of it, because while Pak and Kuder start well they drag things on too long and then seem to be in a great hurry on a rushed finale. Were there a proper explanation at the end then that might be excusable, but there isn’t, just a last minute intervention from someone with no earlier part to play, and the hint that Pandora’s Box has been opened, which won’t mean anything to a lot of readers. Also, Kuder’s art is absent from the final three chapters. Scott Kolins is very good and Georges Jeanty okay, but that also contributes to Truth starting well, but the novelty declining from halfway.
Pak and Kuder’s run on the Man of Steel finishes with Last Rites, in which the intervention is explained.