Superman, as powerful as he is under Earth’s yellow sun, has his weaknesses and when one is exploited it can have disastrous consequences.
Warning: Spoilers below for Superman #27
In the latest issue of Superman, things have taken a drastic turn for the worst. As Brian Michael Bendis’ tenure on the title comes to an end, he and illustrator Ivan Reis have introduced some new challenges for the red and blue icon in Superman #27. Fans know that Kal-El’s incredible Kryptonian physiology, paired with the energy he absorbs from Earth’s yellow sun, make him one of DC’s most powerful heroes. In the past, fans have gotten glimpses of what happens when Superman is exposed to different star types, and the latest book proves a certain star may be a bigger threat to the Man of Steel than even Kryptonite.
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The previous issue saw the Last Son of Krypton engage the Phantom Zone projector to protect Metropolis from the collateral damage of his confrontation with a new alien threat, the Synmar. Superman’s held back in his fight with the unknown hostile and done everything in his power to open a line of communication. These efforts proved futile until he opened up an exit from the prison dimension just outside Saturn’s orbit. Superman, in his desire to avoid further physical confrontation, follows the being back to his home world. Though Superman’s motives are admirable, he has made a grave mistake. In his efforts to prove that he is more than just a powerhouse who settles conflicts with his fists rather than through diplomacy, Kal-El has unwittingly flown right into a trap.
It turns out that at the center of this solar system is an orange sun. Readers discover that this new alien race also have a powerful connection with their sun. In his home system, Synmar is able to open up a “communication gateway” that allows the two to communicate with one another. Synmar also demonstrates some extra-sensory-perception by being able to sense the drop in Superman’s life-force, the fact that Superman’s powers are vastly diminished, as well as his intellectual capacities once exposed to the orange sunlight. It appears as though luring Kal-El to this debilitating environment was the plan all along. This fits with what was revealed in the previous issue; that the Synmar are a highly intelligent and organized civilization who will methodically observe potential threats before making their move.
But there is a possibility that readers are being a little misled. On the one hand, it seems most likely that the narrative arc being set up here is that Superman will have no choice but to find a way to get himself out of this trap without his near god-like power, and to prove himself worthy without his Kryptonian abilities as a crutch. On the other hand, when first being exposed to the orange sun, Superman’s inner monologue gives readers some insight as to how a yellow sun really affects his physiology.
Under Earth’s sun, his solar-charged powers are perfectly balanced, and under his control. Moreover, he notes that it was the belief of Krypton’s greatest minds that yellow sunlight brought his kind to their “absolute maximum potential.” Now, belief and fact are very different things. Is it possible then that Superman’s powers aren’t diminished, but rather that he’s fighting to keep them under control? Fans will have to wait until the next issue to find out.
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