In a far galaxy exists a world called Krypton that is on the brink of destruction. The planet is highly unstable and is set to explode in hours. A scientist by the name of Jor-El understands that his doom is near. He decides to put his son Kal-El in a rocket ship and plot a course for the planet called Earth. Years later, Kal-El, who is now named Clark Kent grows up to be an extraordinary talented teen, with gifts that sets him apart from everyone else. After being told his origin from his new parents, he decides to put his gifts to use by helping those in need around the world as Superman.
Superman punches his way into an abandoned factory and makes a startling discovery. He learns that someone has been watching him for a long time. The person has detailed pictures of him as if they're some type of crazed fan. After further investigation, he finds the corpse of a man that has been lying on a table with a snapped neck for six weeks. Superman separates the entire foundation and flies it into space, leaving it slightly above the Earth. He returns to the planet and after a jog with Lois Lane, he goes up against a man strong enough to send him flying with a single blow. Who is this man and what is his secret? -summary
Following the post crisis continuity, Superman: The Man of Steel Volume One was a six part limited series beginning the Man of Steel's life all over again. This second volume picked up where the limited series ended, and spanned across the several Superman issues that were coming out on a weekly basis. The stories are written by both John Byrne and Marv Wolfman, with John Byrne also providing the pencils along with Jerry Ordway. Although not as great as The Man of Steel mini-series, these follow up stories that spread across nine issues are still very good, as they re-introduce a major villain from Supermans rogues gallery, as well as further character development. This trade paper back collects in chronological order; Superman #s 1 - 3, Action Comics #s 584 - 586, and Adventures of Superman #s 424 - 426.
The book opens with a bang when the very first issue begins with Superman going head on with Metallo. For those who may not know, this is a man in a robotic body that has a piece of green Kryptonite for a heart. This is the first, or should I say reappearance of the radioactive rock that saps Superman's powers, and is the only known thing that can kill him, in which he learns here. The result is a very brutal fight with a wild ending. The most interesting part to this fight is watching Superman try to overcome this nearly impossible obstacle. The Kryptonite constantly robs him of his strength, and Metallo is free to land one devastating blow after the next. This fight is not only meant to establish Metallo as a very serious threat, but also Superman's unbreakable courage, as he rises time and time again and refuses to be defeated. At least one more major enemy makes an appearance. When Superman finds himself stranded on the planet of Apokolips facing the tyrannical ruler named Darkseid.
The character development continues with not only Superman, but with his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. This volume dives even further into his maniacal mind. Luthor truly believes himself to be bigger than life, and he even forces himself upon his female workers. The reader gets a really good grasp on how he thinks. Lois Lane and her personal life is also worked into one of the stories.
I really enjoyed the writing and the many themes that the book examines, giving these stories a feel that separates them from your average comic book. The stories take a look into fanatical terrorism, obsession, manipulation, as well as the mind of a cripple who thinks of himself useless due to his handicap. The writing has an authentic feel and the characters come off as realistic figures that can be sympathized with.
The action panels can be very good with some nice blow for blow exchanges. The artwork is entertaining, plus I feel the character designs and backgrounds are pretty well detailed. In addition, Darkseid is as menacing as he's always been, and his dark world reflects his personality quite nicely.
I think the stories do have their flaws though. I wasn't completely gripped to this book like I was with the previous volume. Superman battled with several uninteresting characters and I felt the fights dragged on a bit. I will admit that at least one had an ending that pretty much made the trip worth it. Still, the trip was tedious no matter how I look at it. I also don't like the formatting at all. The original cover art of the issues are featured in the back of the book. I would have been happier to see them opening up the corresponding stories instead.
The best part I can think of with this collection is that a newbie can jump right in and enjoy the stories. Although highly recommended, the previous volume isn't exactly essential. Overall, Superman: The Man of Steel Volume Two is a very good follow up. The stories can have their slow moments at times, but there's nothing here I would consider to be bad. The graphic novel is 208 pages.