Clark Kent keeps taking it on the chin in Superman #44, by superstars Gene Luen Yang and John Romita, Jr.
Everything changed in Superman's life in issue #43, and we're now seeing the fallout (spoilers for last month's issue ahead). When Lois Lane revealed Superman's secret identity to the world to keep him from being blackmailed, she really seemed to think she was doing the right thing. It didn't take long for her to realize that that world-altering choice wasn't her decision to make.
However, what's done is done, and that's never been more apparent than in this latest issue, as everyone with a grudge against Superman — and against Clark Kent, too — has quickly realized that he's never been more vulnerable. As you might expect, it's an action-packed installment with enemies coming at Clark from all sides. More importantly, now they're going after the people he cares about.
It's that last bit that leads to the most startling conversation in the issue, between Clark and Perry White. Without spoiling too much, Perry shows just how much of a selfish jerk he can be and makes himself supremely unlikeable. It's all the more frustrating because he has a legitimate point. Other aspects of Clark's life go under similarly drastic changes.
The elephant in the room is that, at some point, DC Comics is going to have to hit the reset button on the Man of Steel. Some piece of magic or technology will be used to erase the world's memories of Superman's true identity, much like what happened with Spider-Man after Civil War. Or maybe someone will turn back time so he can undo Lois' worldwide reveal. However it occurs, it's definitely happening.
Why? Because Superman's new status quo has broken or destroyed every recognizable aspect of his life, and that can't go on forever. Somehow, if for no other reason than business and marketing concerns, all of these changes will have to be undone. It will be a shame in some ways; it's been a fascinating story that's truly taken Superman into new dramatic territory — no easy task for a 77-year-old character. By the end of the issue, he's a changed man as much internally as anything external. He's no longer the Superman we know and love, and this new guy may be compelling, but his legacy won't tolerate him remaining this way for long.
In the meantime, Gene Yang is telling what will likely be his career-defining story. He's pulling off a heck of a hat trick, balancing the human drama and inner turmoil that Superman is experiencing with that of his friends, while delivering the kind of big, bone-crunching action that comic fans expect.
John Romita, Jr. seems to be having a blast drawing Clark and company, as nearly every frame is dynamic and in motion. Even the slower moments with just two characters conversing have an urgency to them, a tension that's not easy to pull off. I've been critical of Romita's action scenes in the past for being too confusing, and there's a panel or two that have that same problem here, but I'm inclined to give him a pass because he really nails the drama this month.
Superman #44 is a taut, electrifying issue that you won't be able to turn the pages of fast enough.