Comic Vine Review


Superman #16 - A Fistful of Sticks!


Who is H'el? Readers get a closer look at the character and who he used to be in this latest issue.

The Good

If you've been following this 'He'l On Earth' story arc then you have probably been wondering who the heck is H'el? Is he really who he says he is? Was he one of Jor-El's students? Was he truly a regular Kryptonian once upon a time? This issue answers a lot of questions that many of us who have been reading have had in regards to this character's identity and where he has come from. From the first few pages of this issue it becomes very obvious very quickly that from H'el's perspective, his actions were noble. He makes a promise to Clark's parents and he has every intention of keeping it. Readers will begin to understand the character's motives throughout this story arc a lot better thanks to his appearance in this issue.

The issue's writer Scott Lobdell revisits the relationship between Kara and H'el, and it becomes a bit clearer that Kara may be infatuated with H'el not because she actually cares for him, but because they share a similar goal. She views him as the key to her return to her home planet. She believes that only he can bring her back to everything she had lost.

Lobdell writes this issue in a way that is really very accessible to new readers. He gives an overview of the similarities between Superman and Superboy as well as their respective power sets, and he glazes over the current relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman as well as the blossoming one between Kara and H'el. We get a great look at the Justice League team as a whole. The issue also ends on a seriously crazy cliff-hanger, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of the Earth and these heroes in the next issue.

The Bad

Although Lobdell did move the plot along pretty significantly, I think he spent a lot of time on things we saw in previous issues of both SUPERGIRL and SUPERBOY. Although it makes sense that some of what we have seen in these other books should be alluded to in this issue since not everyone is able to read all three of these books simultaneously, I think Lobdell may have spent a bit too much time on things we've already seen. I feel like some of it could have been more concise.

The Verdict

The art by Rocafort here was better than in previous issues. Although the panel layout was abstract, and there were some missing, blank spaces; overall it didn't feel as baren or sparse as some of the previous issues. I think this is a pretty important issue to the story arc in general, so it was good to see Rocafort pay more attention to detail. This issue is also better written than the more recent SUPERMAN issues and it pushes the story along just a bit more, switching the focus of the arc considerably. There is not a whole lot of Superman in this issue, even though this is his series, but that is okay. The story is interesting enough that that doesn't really matter. New readers will definitely find it easy to follow along, while those who have been keeping up may find some parts of this comic to be rather redundant. Overall, the story is good (three stars) and the art boosts this one up to a four star rating.