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Comic Book / Brian Michael Bendis' Superman

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A new era begins.
For seventeen years, Brian Michael Bendis was a driving force behind Marvel Comics: creating the Ultimate Marvel Universe, reinventing The Avengers by disassembling them and reassembling them as the New Avengers and created highly popular characters such as Jessica Jones and Miles Morales. Now, he has left the "House of Ideas" and is putting down his stakes in DC Comics and its wunderkund, Superman.

This new era officially began with Man of Steel (2018), a "pilot episode" that pits Superman against the new villain Rogol Zaar. With Man of Steel over, the story continues in the relaunched Superman and Action Comics and sees Superman explore his place in the world and is forced to confront the possibility that he might not be doing enough to help humanity.

Bendis' Superman era also establish new situations for Supergirl and Jonathan Samuel Kent that will be explored in those characters' respective comic books.

WARNING: All spoilers from the first six issues of Superman and Action Comics will be left unmarked in the tropes below. Spoilers from Superman #7 and Action Comics #1007 onward will be marked until the release of future story arcs.


Brian Michael Bendis' Superman provides examples of following tropes:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Superboy is understandably terrified at being left at the mercy of Ultraman, the evil Superman from Earth-3. His encounter with Superwoman, who so closely resembles his mother, is hardly any better.
  • And This Is for...: When Superman and General Zod fight Rogol Zaar in Superman #6, Superman yells "For Kandor!", letting Zod know that Rogol destroyed the bottled city of Kandor. Because Zod fought very hard to protect Kandor in his time on the Kryptonian military, he fights Rogol more seriously, which is exactly what Superman wanted.
  • Arc Villain: Rogol Zaar for Superman and Leviathan for Action Comics.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Rogol Zaar forcibly assembles an army of Phantom Zone criminals to invade Earth.
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  • Badass Family: The House of El, obviously. Even their enemies say that one El is bad enough, but a whole family of them would ruin anyone's day.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Jon suggests to a coalition of aliens that they should form a group similar to Earth's United Nations so that the damage caused by the Circle will never happen again. When the idea takes hold, Jon, Kal and Kara are visited by the Legion, who reveal that Jon just created the United Planets.
  • Big "NO!": When Superman realizes that he and the Earth have been sent to Phantom Zone.
  • Broken Masquerade: In Superman #18, Superman reveals his identity to the entire world. Unlike the events of Superman: Truth, it seems that the reveal is taken in a lot better stride.
  • Broken Pedestal: Whatever happened in space finally turned Jon against Jor-El as he immediately came back home and told his parents that he was insane.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Talia al-Ghul orders the kidnapping of Clark for his investigation. Clark, hearing Leviathan's footsteps all the way from Chicago, decides to play along, hoping to get something he can use against them. Unfortunately, Talia forces him to wear a Kryptonite vest. Although she is unaware that Clark and Superman are one and the same, she thinks Clark could call Superman for help, so she isn't taking any chances. It takes Lois, Jimmy, Firestorm and Red Lantern Dex-Starr storming the Leviathan complex so that Clark can escape.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Lois returns to Earth in the pages of Action Comics, but without Jon. She takes up residence in a hotel in Chicago, and does not notify Clark that she is back. She is seen at the end of Action Comics #1001 writing an expose on her marriage to Superman, and is confronted by Clark at the end of Action Comics#1002. In Action Comics #1004, the pair discuss the state of their relationship. Lois assures him they're not breaking up, but that she feels at this stage neither Clark or Jon need her and she needs some space to write her book.
    • Jon Kent returns in the pages of Superman, slightly older, Clark having missed out on seven formative years in his life.
    • The Question returns in Action Comics #1005.
    • The Legion of Super-Heroes make their grand return in Superman #14.
  • Batman Gambit: The mysterious crime ring that has been starting fires across Metropolis expected Superman would start investigating their activities, so they blame Superman for the fires and correctly assume that Superman cannot help the police in their investigation because he could possibly have a vested interest in protecting himself. Fortunately, Clark uses his journalistic skills to work against them.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Nuclear Man makes his first official appearance in Superman #2 and is promptly killed by Rogol Zaar.
  • Downer Beginning: Superman #1 begins with Superman desperately searching for his family in space. He's naturally depressed by their absence.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • As much as he hates Kryptonians, Rogol is forced to work with Jax-Ur to kill Superman and destroy Earth. Superman is able to get Jax-Ur off his back by getting him to question his partnership with Rogol. Jax-Ur, despite his crimes, loved Krypton, while Rogol hates Kryptonians, so what makes Jax-Ur think Rogol will not turn on him once Superman and Earth are destroyed?
    • Superman and General Zod are forced to work together to fight Rogol when they are both trapped in the Phantom Zone.
  • Evil Twin: The Crime Syndicate of America makes their return in Superman #8-9, including Ultraman and Superwoman. Superboy notes how creepy it is to look at evil versions of his own parents.
  • Evil vs. Evil: General Zod versus Rogol Zaar in Superman #6. Rogol wins.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Bendis announced his intention to reunite the Kents in an upcoming event. Not to mention they're together again in Doomsday Clock, which is set a year into the future.
  • From Bad to Worse: The situation within the Phantom Zone gets worse in Superman #2 as Rogol learns of Superman and Earth's arrival while the heroes of Earth are starting to get ravaged by the effects of the Zone... and Superman's losing his powers.
  • Home Base: The Fortress of Solitude, as usual. With the old one being destroyed by Rogol in Man of Steel, Superman constructs a new one in the Bermuda Triangle.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Superman #7 reveals that Lois' quick return to Earth (and most likely her wanting distance from Clark for the time being) was the overwhelming feeling of being confronted by aliens who revere the S-Shield like royalty along with the fact that she was a human travelling with a full-blooded and half-blooded Kryptonian.
  • Internal Reveal: In Action Comics #1007, Lois tells her father, General Sam Lane, that she is married to Superman.
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning: Rare Male Example with Clark, who struggles between his faith for Lois and Jon as they travel with Jor-El and his fear that something could happen to them.
  • Mythology Gag: CBR caught on to the fact that Superman's new Fortress of Solitude might be reminiscent of Lex Luthor's Kryptonian island from Superman Returns.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: As it turns out, Jon's desire to be with Jor-El and hope he can get his help in solving his problems was a bad idea as he comes back seven years older and the realization that grandpa is insane.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: Leviathan, which may or may not be the same Leviathan that Batman fought a few years ago.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Circle, the mysterious Illuminati-like group that ruled the galaxy from the shadows, was plagued by internal conflict and disssent. Jor-El begged the Circle to help save the Kryptonian people, but he was ignored, the Tamaranean king went to war against the Thanagarians, who used Rogol Zaar to force him to withdraw from a planet he was trying to conquer and Empress Gandelo attempted to hide the truth behind Krypton's destruction to protect her domain.
  • Not Quite Dead: Amanda Waller abandons General Lane to a creature sent by Leviathan so she can escape. At first, it appears Lane died but Action Comics #1009, he survived and was sent to the hospital.
  • Phantom Zone: Phantom Earth, the premiering story arc in the Superman flagship book, features the entire Earth being trapped in the Trope Namer. Continuous exposure to the Zone causes people all over the world to feel sick and superhumans to lose their powers.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Subverted. Clark tries to be this but Talia al Ghul puts a Kryptonite vest on him, severely weakening him. He only survives thanks to Lois and a group of allies attacking Leviathan's hideout.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Superman accuses Jor-El of portraying himself as the victim of the Circle's treason, when he helped them control the fates of countless planets and likely ordered their deaths and now, Jor-El has the gall of feeling betrayed when they turned their backs on Krypton.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Happens to Jon in The House of El. He left Earth as a 10-year-old and returns only weeks later, now aged 17. It turns out this because of some years spent traveling with Jor-El and some years imprisoned by Ultraman on the Crime Syndicate's Earth.
  • Previously On…: Every issue of Action Comics opens with a full page of computer or phone screen belonging to a Planet employee, with various windows and other notes showing the story so far.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: General Zod gets involved in Phantom Earth by drinking from the spirits of Jekuul, the planet he previously conquered, and having a vision of Rogol Zaar. Because of Rogol's involvement in Krypton's destruction, Zod willingly goes back into the Phantom Zone to attain revenge. In The House of El Superman has a similar vision.
  • The Reveal: Action Comics #1005 reveals that the Red Cloud is Robinson Goode, Clark's fellow reporter at the Daily Planet.
  • Revenge Before Reason: General Zod, having a vision of Rogol, willingly goes back into the Phantom Zone to lay his hands on him, even if it means leaving his wife and son behind on Jekuul. Superman takes advantages of this and, during their fight with Rogol, he yells "For Kandor!", letting Zod know that Rogol destroyed the bottled city of Kandor and getting him to take the fight more seriously.
  • Series Continuity Error: When Jon reunites with Damian, Damian laments how Jon is now taller than him. Except Jon has always been explicitly taller than Damian since the day they met, which had been brought up repeatedly during their time together.
  • Shaming the Mob: Superman stops a mob from looting Metropolis just by sternly telling them to stop causing trouble. Dejected, the mob disperses and Jimmy takes pictures of what happened.
  • Shooting Superman: Gets parodied and Played for Laughs in Action Comics #1001.
  • Spin-Off: Events in Bendis' run will directly lead to two 12-issue miniseries starring Lois (by Greg Rucka) and Jimmy Olsen (by Matt Fraction)
  • Super Smoke: The Red Cloud, a new villainess working for the unseen crime ring in Metropolis, can turn herself into... well, a red cloud and suffocate people to death.
  • Take That!: Action Comics #1005 has one crook being afraid of using the H-E-R-O dial because he's afraid of it backfiring and doing something crazy to make it work like selling your marriage to the devil. You get one guess as to what he's referring to.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The entire Earth was swallowed up by the Phantom Zone because some S.T.A.R. Labs scientists were researching for possible ways to safely map the Zone.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Both the Man of Steel miniseries and Superman #1 explore this notion. Jor-El had confronted Clark with the possibility that he is limiting himself to what he could do to help the people of Earth and Martian Manhunter suggests that Superman could take his service to humanity to the next level by becoming some sort of leader for the global community.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Nuclear Man shows up and is killed off within two pages.

Alternative Title(s): Superman Bendis


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