Written by Geoff Johns
Art by John Romita Jr.
Inks by Klaus Janson
Colors by Laura Martin
Published by DC Comics
PREVIOUSLY: SUPERMAN #33 by Geoff Johns & John Romita Jr.
This issue opens with Superman and Ulysses meeting Ulysses’ biological parents, whom we last saw in flashback in Superman #32 and together they give us the Secret Origin of Ulysses, which is pretty similar to Superman’s origin. Imagine that a few minutes after sending baby Kal-El away in the rocket Krypton stopped shaking and didn’t explode, but it was too late for Jor-El and Lara to bring the rocket back or go after him. That’s essentially the story of Ulysses. The parents acclimate as best they can to the idea of their long-lost son being returned to them, but Ulysses seems to take it all exceptionally well. He’s even decided to stay on Earth now, figuring there’s no need to return to his adopted home-world.
Late that night Ulysses returns to Clark’s apartment (it turns out that Ulysses never sleeps) with some clues he’s found regarding the various war machines that have been randomly attacking Metropolis over the past two issues, and the two of them go off to investigate, leading them to a scrap yard and a confrontation with a new villain, called The Machinist, who not only has a variety of high-tech machines, including cybernetic wolves (cool!), at his disposable, but also tiny little devices which when attached to someone’s head puts the person under his complete control. And the first thing he does is use one on Ulysses and forces him to attack Superman. No spoilers, but a knock-down drag-out fight ensues and before this issue is completed someone may have crossed a very serious line…
There’s also the ongoing mystery of this mysterious hooded figure who has been observing Superman’s every move from some hidden location and appears to know all of Superman’s secrets. We get a brief look at his face for the first time this issue, but he remains unrecognizable. And he’s holding someone captive, but we don’t see who. The most interesting reveal to me here is to learn that Jonathan and Martha Kent were killed in a car crash when Clark was still in High School. As I said before, I had not been following the Superman comics post-Nu52, so I was unaware of the exact details of Superman’s origin and background, and therefor didn’t know the current status of the Kents.
This issue was more heavily focused on the story of Ulysses here, with no appearances from any of Clark’s regular supporting cast (and Clark is only briefly out of costume), which gives the unfortunate side-effect of making Superman almost feel like a guest-star in his own series. However I remain intrigued enough with Ulysses that I’m willing to wait for the pay-off. I don’t know if it’s my own cynical nature, but Ulysses has been portrayed as so innocent and well-mannered that I just assume that there has to be a bad side to him that will come out. I’m trying to avoid significant spoilers, but the cliffhanger in this issue definitely applies a major conflict with Superman is coming.
I continue to be impressed with the artwork of John Romita Jr., it sort of invokes the feel of classic Jack Kirby to me, which is fitting as Ulysses feels almost like a Fourth World character, and this whole story is reminiscent of Superman’s early interaction with the New Gods. Overall, Superman #34 is another fine issue in this series.