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Superman #1 [Review]


What Price Tomorrow?

Script & Breakdowns: George Perez
Pencils & Inks: Jesus Merino
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: George Perez & Brian Buccellato
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

What do you think of when you think of Superman? And more to the point, what do you expect to see in a Superman comic? Speaking for myself–especially for a premiere issue of a new series–I tend to expect to see Superman…but also Clark Kent. Ideally, Lois Lane would be there, and I don’t mind if we have something with Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and other staffers of the Daily Planet…to say nothing of the Daily Planet itself. I expect to see Clark Kent interacting with people, just as I expect to see Superman being…well, super. Have those elements, and I’m pretty much going to be one satisfied camper.

I came to this relaunch this month with a lot of mixed feelings. Probably the strongest was–has been–regarding Superman, and not knowing what he would be in this relaunch…knowing only that the character is one that DC felt the need to change quite a bit from the existing status quo, to update and bring back in a different way (unlike, say, Batman or Green Lantern). Action Comics left me rather cool–especially in retrospect…and there was but a cameo of Superman in the new Justice League book. So, there’s a lot of weight put upon this issue, the first issue of the new Superman comic itself. After Action Comics, and generally lukewarm if not hopeful feelings on a lot of the other #1s, I was prepared to dislike this issue, or at least find a lot of fault with it in and of itself.

The issue opens with a voiceover, discussing the history of the Daily Planet building. We follow the narration to find it’s live coverage of the unveiling of the NEW Daily Planet, recognition being given to the original. At this point, the Planet is an acquisition of Morgan Edge, and in moving things into the present, readying for the future–the newspaper is now “just” a part of the overall media corporation Edge owns. We’re introduced to Lois Lane and Perry White–familiar names and faces (though White looks a good 10-15 years too young), and find out their new roles moving forward with the new Planet. We learn some backstory about Clark’s opposition to the Planet’s acquisition, and that Superman is only just now back in town after some sort of noticeable absence. We get snippets on attitudes toward Superman in this new DCU. We see Jimmy Olsen at work–not as a bumbling cub reporter but as a competent video reporter working as part of a street team. We’re also introduced to new characters that will presumably be a regular part of the supporting cast.

When an alien fire-entity explodes onto the scene, it’s clearly a job for Superman. While the battle unfolds, we learn further detail about Superman–his powers are continuing to grow/develop, and no one knows for sure what can really hurt him…and there’s still a certain amount of distrust…or at least, willingness to believe that he doesn’t care about the very people he’s trying to protect. After the battle, we see the aftermath in the people involved, as we’re introduced to the current status quo of the Lois/Clark relationship.

I love the art on this issue. I don’t recall specifically enjoying Merino‘s art like this before, but in this issue, it feels like he was born to do this. I just paged through the issue again, and I can’t find a panel to dislike. The characters–if looking a bit young, but I knew they’d be, going in–all look recognizeable, and just simply…are. This is Superman–and I actually really enjoy this new costume–it just works, to the point that the ads in the issue showing the classic costume actually look dated. I hadn’t realized how much I like this costume until now.

Story-wise, Perez presents a new Superman with plenty of echoes of the classic. Though this Morgan Edge reminds me of Samuel Jackson‘s Nick Fury from Marvel…this works, too. The character seems to be what he is, or for longtime readers familiar with the name–there’s an extra layer to consider. The opening–the history of the Planet, its being swept away in favor of the new, and even some of Edge’s early comments in the issue–felt like a direct parellel to this entire new DCU thing…which adds levels of depth in and of itself to the story.

Unlike most of the other DC issues I’ve read this month, this issue does what I expect of a #1. We’re introduced to the setting, the characters–main and supporting. We’re introduced to what’s recently happened and given some slight hints as to what may be coming. We get a seemingly arbitrary scene, but a classic-style “footnote” directing us to Stormwatch #1 for more detail (which reminded me that Stormwatch #1 had a footnote itself directing us to Superman #1) which sets up some official continuity between this and another DCU book. And–best of all–despite the huge threat, that seems to be an actual challenge to Superman, we’re not left on some to-be-continued, left dangling to have to buy another issue to find out the (obvious) “fate” of the “hero” (sorry if that’s a spoiler, Superman doesn’t die in this issue).

By the end of the issue, I actually CARE about the status quo. I’m interested more, really, in all the “regular” characters–old and new–than I am Superman himself…and yet, I’m not actually disinterested in this Superman. He’s different from the Superman I grew up on…and thankfully, he’s different from boring post-Infinite Crisis caricature of the last few years that saw me walk away from the character for most of the past couple years. I think I like this character, and this issue. In fact, this has got to be just about my favorite issue of the relaunch so far.

If you’ve never read Superman before…give this issue a chance. It’s well worth it. And if you find you don’t like what you’re introduced to…you’re out a single issue. Only $2.99. No $3.99 let-downs, and no to-be-continued. This is a great single-issue story, and I really think that THIS should have been the “flagship” title of the new DCU. As-is, it certainly lives up to its title…Superman.

Highly recommended!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

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