Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Reign of the Supermen

Set six months after The Death of Superman, Sam Liu's follow up, Reign of the Supermen, gives us a Metropolis full of pretenders and facsimiles, each desperate to fill the shoes of the absent Man of Steel. These aspirants include a horny teenage clone, Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's Conner Kent reconfigured as a grasping pop star in the Justin Bieber mold. His 'appearances' are not just your typical tabloid altruism, Superboy also turns up to film premieres and mixes in with crowds of adoring adolescent fans. These public pop-ups are micromanaged by his father-cum-manager Lex Luthor, here voiced by Rainn Wilson who brings his trademark man-on-the-verge-of-shrieking-mania to the role.

Screenwriters Tim Sheridan and Jim Krieg also punch up the Cyborg Superman's origins, marrying the biomechanical horror of the character to the micro-marked flesh of Jack Kirby's Apokolips. The creature's raw material, astronaut Hank Henshaw, perished in the previous film, frozen in the headlights of Doomsday's meteorite delivery vehicle. Moments from death, Henshaw ignored the pleas of his colleagues (including his wife) to do basically anything, instead preferring to sit smiling with the expectation that Superman would rock up any second and put everything right. Reign, a much more fluid and free-flowing episode than its predecessor, has fun working through this raving lunatic's disappointments. The animators warp his body and dimensions, filling the 1.78:1 frame with his screaming, mechanised face as he stomps around, searching for a powerless, party-in-the-back Superman.

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