It’s the final showdown with a menace that’s been working behind the scenes to mess with the Man of Steel all the while, as Superman tries to defeat Manchester Black.

Superman 25
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Art by Patrick Gleason, Doug Mahnke, Mick Gray and Jaime Mendoza

They call this – and all the issue 25s coming out this month – special “anniversary” issues, because DC Comics needed an excuse to charge that extra dollar every now and then. With two issues a month, we’re just past a year into Rebirth, and the new status quo that DC established for Superman at the start is slowly being rolled back to the old pre-Flashpoint status quo – just with the addition of a child.

That’s not a bad thing. Though I’ll miss the stories set in Hamilton County, the BLACK DAWN arc that came to a head here was a good send-off and sets up the opportunity to return to check in on the Super Elite that have vowed to protect the area now that the Kent family are headed back to Metropolis.

Superman Jon

Manchester Black‘s final gambit against Superman is to try and turn his son Jon against him and turning the kid into Superboy Black. Pitting Superman against his son is, of course, a strong gambit for a villain, but it would have had a lot more impact if we hadn’t just seen Mr. Mxyzptlk do the same thing in the SUPERMAN REBORN crossover.

That’s not to say the story is bad, because Tomasi and Gleason have been great on Superman, and bringing artist Doug Mahnke in to work on his creation Manchester Black has been fun, as well. Mahnke has long been one of my favorite artists. But we’re only a year into this new era and the “Superman vs. Superboy” trope already feels played out. That’s a bit dangerous.

Thankfully, Jon overcomes Manchester’s influence quickly enough, with his parents and his friend Kathy – who was actually a member of the Super Elite – helping him through. Kathy uses her powers to leave Manchester catatonic, which seems to happen to him a lot. What they don’t know is that his consciousness was transferred somewhere else. He now inhabits the mind of a cow. Manchester Black’s final scene is pretty funny and a fairly ignominious end for him.

Now that the family is leaving the farm to head back to the City – which should spell a return to the usual Super-background characters – I hope that Tomasi and Gleason don’t lose the opportunities for the guest appearances that have made this book so much fun. Frequent appearances from Batman and Robin will likely continue as the book ties in to Super Sons as well, but getting Frankenstein and his bride (“Ex” “Hrm”) was a treat. I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

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