The story of Jon Kent’s summer vacation in space continues as the Teen of Steel gets stranded on Earth-3 with a psychotic (and kind of pathetic) Ultraman.

Superman 9
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Ivan Reis and Brandon Peterson
Inks by Joe Prado, Oclair Albert and Brandon Peterson
Colors by Alex Sinclair

A storyteller telling a story about someone telling a story can be a tough needle to thread, but Bendis is doing a great job building up the terrible trip Jon Kent took through space and time with grandpa Jor-El. We’ve established that Jon thinks Jor-El is a bit insane, though we haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet.

And the problems with grandpa take a backseat this week, since Jon’s focus turns to how he was sent through the Multiverse and landed on Earth-3, the home of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika.

The CSA is a twisted mirror of the Justice League, on a world where morality is seen as a weakness and power is all that matters. So when the son of Superman lands in the middle of a Crime Syndicate scrum, Ultraman – the Earth-3 version of Superman – lays his claim and hides Jon away in the middle of a volcano until he figures out what to do with him.

Ultraman’s evil plan for Jon seems to be using him as a therapist. I know he’s supposed to be a bad guy, but someone with the powers of Superman and the morals of a Batman villain shouldn’t be so pathetic, should they?

Jon’s story was broken up occasionally by look-ins with the Kent family absorbing Jon’s story. And Jon also eats a lot while Bendis manages to sneak in an instance of Lois calling Clark “baby.” At least it’s only the one time and it’s not beaten into us like that one issue of ACTION COMICS.

This is a great slow build story so far. Every issue gives us more questions for Bendis to play with, but the one everyone wants answered is: what the hell happened to Jor-El and what is Clark going to do when he finally gets to him?