Review by Ian Keogh
Who is Conner Kent, who turned up accompanying Young Justice in the battle against Luthor and Leviathan? What consequences will there be for The Daily Planet after running a headline story concerning the criminal ownership of the paper? These are the two major questions left hanging after Metropolis Burning, and answering them produces the best of Brian Michael Bendis’ run on this series.
There’s everything a Superman fan surely wants from a story featuring the world’s mightiest mortal. He’s given intriguing allies, a villain who can match him even accompanied by those allies, the introduction of someone even worse, a crisis for a strong supporting cast, neat twists, continual tension and a phenomenal artist. After a few glitches in Metropolis Burning, John Romita Jr. is back to the first rate penciller he’s been for decades. Perhaps he had more time, but it’s not just the spreads that are stunners. Romita maximises the possibilities of a battle with someone who can turn into a red cloud, with colourist Brad Anderson adding to the glory. It’s the visual effect of the sample art that catches the eye, but other spreads include an amazing fully detailed and staffed Daily Planet.
House of Kent is a sparkling Superman story in almost every respect, with the cherry on the cake being a clever visual detail that’s been waved in our faces time and time again, but is never actually explained. Is it a clue as to the mysterious Metropolis crime boss? A big disappointment, though, is Bendis not being imaginative enough to avoid having a supporting character murdered. He’s so good at showing a new and different perspective that this form of cheap sensationalism should be beyond him when Superman’s anger might have been generated in any number of ways. A phenomenal Jimmy Olsen moment proves that. There’s a fine reflective ending reinforcing Superman’s humanity as he and Jon Kent see to less Earth-shattering needs while having a conversation, after which it’s over and out for Bendis’ Superman.
While it’s definitely the case that so much of what Bendis established in earlier work built toward this being a stunner, it’s also a shame that much of the earlier work lacked this sparkle. With Warworld Rising Phillip Kennedy Johnson takes over Superman’s world.