Review of Superman #50 by Gene Luen Yang and Howard Porter

Comic panel of Superman #50
Superman #50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

This is the 50th issue of the rebooted Superman and it's a real treat. Superman has his powers back, but Vandal Savage gets the power he's been looking for too. What happens when they collide?

Read this review of Superman #50 to find out.

If you want to avoid spoilers for this comic, then skip to the "overall" section at the end.

Warning: Spoilers for Superman #50 by Gene Luen Yang and Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher lie ahead!

Superman vs. Savage

Comic panel of Superman #50
Superman #50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Superman and Vandal Savage are fighting in space as he remembers how, centuries ago, a piece of the comet gave Savage immortality. Basically, Yang is catching up the reader on what's been happening. Superman is asking himself if touching a piece of the rock gave him that much power, what's going to happen when he gets the whole thing? Superman can't talk because he's so far in the atmosphere and has to hold his breath. Superman is a long way from his fly-in-space-without-air days.

Savage finally grabs the comet and is engulfed in purple flame. Oh boy. He strong enough to punch Superman back to Earth with a crash which is pretty amazing in itself. Back on Earth, Savage complains that Superman used his strength to be a "nanny, servant and scapegoat" to the "creatures beneath" him. Then he gives Superman a roundhouse and knocks him out.

The High Chief of Krypton

Comic panel of Superman 50
Superman 50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Superman wakes up to find himself on Krypton in the past. He saves his family from being crushed by the falling ceiling. But when Kal-El starts talking he realizes it's not real. At his age, he would have been back in Kansas. Lara scolds Kal for using the ancient superstitious name of Rao (Krypton's main god) instead of High Chief. Jor-El says that he abandoned his plan to escape after realizing the High Chief would keep the planet from being destroyed.

Superman heads to the High Chief's office and guards try to stop him. Even though he's under a red sun the last year taught him how to fight, so he gets in. He confronts the high chief in the tunnel leading to the planet's core.

The High Chief is (unsurprisingly) Vandal Savage who used HORDR_ROOT's virtual simulation tech to create Krypton. Vandal discovered from the Krypton archives in the Fortress of Solitude that Krypton had unwittingly caused Savage's creation. Superman's ancestor had deflected a comet and caused the meteorite to head to Earth instead. Savage says that if the comet had crashed into Krypton it would have given someone the power to save the planet.

General Superman

Comic panel of Superman #50
Superman #50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Superman thinks it's ridiculous of course but Savage shows him another simulation and Superman decides to play along until he can find a way out. Savage creates a virtual world where he rules Earth along with Superman. Just then his army of superheroes and supervillains shows up including Captain Atom, Shazam and Gorilla Grodd. Not willing to take a chance that the civilians are virtual he commands the army to attack the "Dominators". They win and go to a huge banquet hall to celebrate.

He's impressed but asks what happens to the weak in this new society. Savage scoffs that the ones that are of no use don't matter. Superman and Savage argue that the world will face a threat so great that it will destroy the world. Then he shows it to him. He says that if Superman doesn't embrace his viewpoint of the strong surviving everything he loves will be lost and the planet will fall just like Krypton. Savage and Puzzler leave him to make a decision.

What Kind of Man is Clark?

Comic panel of Superman 50
Superman 50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Superman flashes back to a time with his adopted father Jonathan. Clark is complaining to his father about a bully at school and says he's going to beat him up "real soft". His father reminds him that gifts come with responsibilities and choices have consequences. He also needs to recognize that gifts have limits. His father's words remind him that our choices define us and Superman is not the kind of man that believed in strength above all else. So, he heads to the comet to stop it from crashing into Earth.

Something More

Comic panel of Superman 50
Superman #50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Savage sends Puzzler to kill him but he stops to ask Superman why he didn't kill his brother HORDR_ROOT when he had the chance? He was just data. Superman tells him he'd fought enough robots to know HORDR_ROOT was still a person and could still make choices. Just like Puzzler can. Will he just be a tool of Vandal Savage or something more? Puzzler says he's "something more" and helps Superman. It's a nice parallel to Superman asking himself who he is.

Savage pushes back and the comet explodes throwing them all in different directions. Superman crashes back to Earth (coincidentally right where he was even though the Earth turns) and Puzzler into the ocean. Lois and Jimmy meet and he tells her he's sorry. Or at least, they make a silent exchange of apologies.

Later, at the coffee shop at Siegel and Shuster the trio look at the picture that got Jimmy Olsen back his job. Then Superman gets the call and heads out to be a hero again.

Overall: Buy Superman #50 (2016) by Gene Luen Yang and Howard Porter

Comic cover of Superman #50
Superman #50 by Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. DC Comics

Gene Yang uses Vandal Savage to explore a side of Superman that isn't often appreciated. If someone had incredible power, should they use it to remake the world? Even if it meant crushing everyone and everything that would stand in their way? Why doesn't Superman just crush his enemies and control the world? His thoughtful exploration of that question is what makes this comic so enjoyable.

That said, it's wall-to-wall action in this issue and it knocks you out of your seat. Even though there's a lot going on you don't get lost in the layout, so that's a rare treat.

The combined work of Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf, and Patrick Zircher is amazing. While the styles do conflict sometimes overall it fits well. They're a great team and Porter's artwork is still a favorite.

The facial expressions are impressive and the poses are dynamic. The layouts are inventive, but not confusing.

Hi-Fi does his usually great work in giving the artwork depth and focus using a wide palette of bright colors.

This is a great anniversary comic for Superman. It actually delivers on the expectation, unlike Action Comics #50. Maybe because it's the next step in the milestone issue. It's hard to say, but Superman #50 deserves its number. The only confusing part is the synopsis says that Superman will meet pre-Flashpoint Kal-El. Either that doesn't happen or they're talking about the dream sequence. It's confusing so maybe there's something they cut out of the comic.

Superman #50 at a Glance:

  • Writer: Gene Luen Yang
  • Artwork by: Howard Porter, Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher
  • Color by: Hi-Fi
  • On Sale Date: March 16, 2016
  • U.S. Price: $4.99
  • Synopsis: Superman returns in all his glory in this very special issue that sees the Man of Steel back to full power as he faces his greatest enemy and also comes face to face with the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El! At last, it's the meeting of the Supermen you've been waiting for!

Final Thoughts

While the Truth and Savage Dawn storyline has been a mixed bag, this comic shows that the journey has been worth it.