Superman #1 (DC) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Superman #1

DC

Written by George Pérez; art by Jesús Merino (pencils and inks), Brian Buccellato (colors), George Pérez and Brian Buccellato (cover)

Oct 05, 2011 DC Universe Bookmark and Share


DC is taking different approaches in their New 52 re-launch with its two flagship characters, Batman and Superman. Batman, who is now the star of four monthly books, still seems to have much of the same continuity from before the New 52 reboot. Damian, his son, is still Robin, and the Batman Incorporated initiative is still ongoing. Dick Grayson is Nightwing again, but they do reference that he was recently Batman (when Bruce Wayne was lost in time, presumed dead). The only major adjustment to the Bat family of characters is that Barbara Gordon is Batgirl once more and no longer wheelchair-bound.

A lot has changed in Superman’s world, however. Action Comics now focuses on The Man of Steel’s early days, with a new T-shirt and jeans casual costume to boot. Supergirl is being re-imagined, with her crash landing on Earth for the first time (again) in her first issue. And now here comes Superman #1, written by comic book legend George Pérez (The New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1980s Action Comics) and drawn by Jesús Merino. There are vague mentions of Superman having been out of town for a while, perhaps a reference to the recent pre-New 52 Grounded storyline, but apart from that, this is a fresh continuity for the character. Not only does Superman have a new costume (more traditionally Superman than the new Action Comics one, but wisely sans underwear on the outside), the other major change is that Lois Lane and Clark Kent are no longer married. Lois doesn’t even know that Clark is Superman.

It could be argued that DC wrote themselves into a corner back in the ‘90s when they had Lois and Clark get married, thus removing two of the central tensions of the Superman mythos (the love triangle between Lois, Clark, and Superman; and whether or not Superman would ever reveal his secret identity to Lois). A reboot also makes more sense right now for Superman than Batman (whose books were on solid ground pre-New 52). While the New Krypton storyline was successful at shaking up the Superman universe, Grounded betrayed that DC wasn’t really sure what to do with the character anymore, short of starting from scratch.

Action Comics #1 has been one of the strongest New 52 first issues, showcasing a bolder and more reckless Last Son of Krypton, one who is wanted by the police and is not averse to intimidating witnesses. It brought the character back to his late-1930s/early-1940s roots, back when he fought corruption and hoods, rather than supervillains. Superman #1 is almost more about The Daily Planet than The Man of Steel. In a topical development, the struggling newspaper has been bought by a media corporation whose assets include a tabloid paper that was recently involved in a phone hacking scandal. Lois embraces the new owners and her new promotion to TV producer on a nightly newscast. Clark is worried that The Daily Planet’s spotless reputation will be corrupted by the sale. The opening pages show the old Daily Planet building being demolished, the iconic gold globe atop it crumbling to the ground, as a lavish and modern new headquarters has already been erected. The rubble nicely comes back into play later in the issue when Superman battles an alien fire monster.

The whole issue is narrated by a Daily Planet cover story written by Clark, which is nice touch. The new Clark is a bit of a brooding loner, rather than the clumsy nerd of yore. Lois can’t imagine dating him, as he never lets anyone get close, and she has even unsuccessfully tried to set him up with some of her friends. It’ll be interesting to see how Lois and Clark’s relationship develops and how long DC can hold out before getting them together again.

There’s a lot going on in this issue, but most of it works. One thing that doesn’t, however, is the one-page inclusion of a poorly-designed alien and a giant horn he blows from on top of a mountain in the Himalayas. It doesn’t seem to relate to the rest of the issue and, worse, you need to have read Stormwatch #1 to better understand what it’s all about. Firstly, if DC wants to win over new readers then they shouldn’t make them read a completely unrelated comic to understand a plot point (they should, however, reference events in Action Comics in the pages of Superman). Secondly, Stormwatch #1 sucked, so they doubly shouldn’t force the readers of this much better first issue buy that one.

Despite that snafu, when you take both Superman #1 and the slightly more compelling Action Comics #1 into account, The Man of Steel seems to be starting on the right track in the New 52. (www.dccomics.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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