What is this all about?
(Spoilers ahead!) In this issue, the family vacation leads to visit memorial sites for WWII, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, and the Civil War. Jonathan gets in touch with the memories of hundreds of soldiers who died in the Civil War. Lois leaves a momentum for her uncle who died in Vietnam. And Superman finds the lost remains of a soldier who had been MIA from the Civil War, 1863.
This story shows how Superman and his family put their feelings of compassion and empathy to work to help provide closure for a grieving family.
In this issue, Superman, Lois, and Jonathan visit several war memorials and a cemetery. Clark and Lois give civics lessons and point out the power of speech and the importance of freedom of speech. Superman is wearing a “Hamilton” T-shirt! Parts of it are “on-the-nose” and academic-sounding. For example, Superman gives a speech describing the differences between the European theatre and the Pacific Theatre in WWII.
The book immediately transitions to the Vietnam Memorial described in the book as the ” black granite wall”. This is the most moving part of the book, perhaps. The image of the wall with all the names is impacting. I soon forgot about the on-the-nose dialogue that preceded this portion of the book. The art depicts the family walking away with the black granite wall on their left somehow symbolizing the lingering effects of war.
The family transitions to a cemetery for the Battle of Gettysburg. There they meet a family who asks them to sit and sing happy birthday with them. There is no transition or build up for this encounter, which feels ridiculous. Superman, with Lois and Jonathan, stumble upon a family and they are complete strangers to each other. The fact that the family is there to memorialize a fallen family member barely makes up for the awkwardness of this scene. In addition, the weightiness of the material is hard for the reader to carry from one panel to the next. For example, transitioning from the Vietnam War Memorial to singing happy birthday in a Cemetery with strangers is confusing.
The final transition leads to a minor character study for a member of the Dowd family, whom they met in the park. The Dowd family tells the super family about the history of Thomas Dowd and how he lost his life. Specifically, the story tells of the daily struggles of infantry life, the difficulties they faced when they were re-stationed, and the difficulties of fighting their neighbors and relatives. The story feels personal, intimate, and pointed. The depiction of Thomas Dowd, the person, a father with an extended family humanizes the information for the reader.
The summary of Thomas Dowd could have provided the bulk of the material on this issue and I would have been completely satisfied. I also enjoyed the art in this part of the book the most. Characters were depicted in an off brown and dirty white color scheme that reflected a story from 154 years ago. Superman (spoilers) goes back and locates the remains of Thomas Dowd and delivers them to the family wrapped in a flag. As noticeable as the red, white, and blue colors were, it was Superman’s compassion that stands out to the reader.
Reviewed by Tom Zimm
Superman #28 – Independence Day
Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Art by: Scott Godlewski; Colors by, Gabe Eltaeb; Letters by, Rob Leigh
Published by DC
Release Date: 8/2/2017