Orion fights Superman in order to free him from the control of Hector Hammond.
I'm not a Superman fan. There's very few stories I like about him. He's a hard character to write because the character of Superman is one that's very hard to connect with on a personal level. However, that being said, I think writer Scott Lobdell is onto something here with Hector Hammond. While Superman may be this almost perfect being, there's one place that can still get attacked, his mind. Minds are fragile and for me, this is an aspect of this story I can connect to. The use of Hector Hammond, who I have always felt was a super-lame Green Lantern villain, works wonderfully here. This is the place he should stay because, to me, he is one of the few characters that is a good match for Superman, since most of Supes rogue-gallery are pretty "meh."
What I'm about to say is normally hypocritical to points I've made in the past, but I'm happy that the majority of this issue is the battle between these two behemoths. These are characters that are both so powerful that you need a full issue of them beating each other to a pulp to emphasize their durability and toughness. Orion is a bit more on the brutish side, while Superman is a tad more strategic. There's a point in this issue where Orion picks up a carrier ship and is about to smash it on Superman. It's this very cool moment where the reader is on the edge of their seat, but we see Supes get out of it at the last second. It's a chess match that has the potential to never end.
I loved Aaron Kuder's art on this issue. His page layouts are epic. One of the opening pages features Orion punching Superman in the face the outline of the word "KRAKOW" over the image. The page is beautiful and the position he put Orion in as he hits Superman is fantastic. This may sound weird, but it looks like a real punch. He has the stance down perfectly. Loved his layouts as well, each page is dynamic and unique. Solid stuff.
Any comic can be someone's first issue in a series, and this one was mine, so without reading issue 19, this is a bit confusing. I caught on about halfway through, but it took a second reading to really understand the overall story and peril that Superman was in. That being said, it's obviously going to be a tough read for a newbie to the series. Do what I'm going to do and pick up issue #19 at your LCS before reading this.
I don't know how to feel about Orion's dialogue. It's funny, but it doesn't feel like it fits the serious tone of the book. It's nice that the book doesn't take itself too seriously, but it felt a little out of place.
My first venture into SUPERMAN was a satisfying one. This was a great "smash it up" issue, and since I'm a big Forth World fan, I was pretty excited to jump right in. While this may be a tough issue for new readers because we're in the middle of a story, you can get the gist of what's going on in a second read through, but it's best to pick up issue #19 as well. My only other problem was some of Orion's dialogue which was a bit too comical for the book. However, this was a ton of fun. Lobdell and Kuder do an amazing job here, and for the first time in years, I can say I'm on board with a Superman book.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.