Superman’s time without powers made him realize that the world needs more super-powered protectors. But where will he find these super-beings? And will they be receptive to his cause?
Superman #51 (DC Comics)
This is the first issue in DC Comics April and May series “Super League,” all written by Peter J. Tomasi which spans Batman/Superman, Superman/Wonder Woman and Action Comics. After overcoming the fire pits of Apokolips, surviving the Kryptonite chamber room at A.R.G.U.S. and battling Rao, Superman has found himself at the start of this issue ready to tackle a new problem.
Why does this book matter?
A new eight-part story arc starts here so you know you’re in for a story deserving of your attention. With Peter J. Tomasi writing each issue we’re also safe from the sometimes unhinged nature of event storylines. Plus the art is by Mikel Janin, who uses a thin-lined, hyper realistic look and feel for a more humanizing take on Superman.
A heroic double page spread!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The issue opens with an extreme close up of Superman saying some very somber words hard for anyone to swallow. Tomasi instantly humanizes the character and makes you care about him. From there we witness this story feeling like a culmination of everything that’s happened to him in the last year or so. That strengthens the purpose of this character, but also makes the story feel more pertinent than ever. Throughout this issue we witness Superman check in with old friends, reminisce, and come to grips with preparing for the inevitable. At the same time two threats – or at least they seem like threats at this point – develop and there’s an intriguing mystery afoot.
It’s also nice to see Superman chilling in the Fortress of Solitude and to have Krypto make an appearance. All in all this issue appears to understand the roots of who the kind and always good hearted Superman should be. In a touching sequence Superman hangs out with Lana as they discuss their childhood on a swing set. As they swing in the present day they remember swinging as children and it’s a nice moment as it reflects on how Clark shared his powers for good even at an early age.
The art is fantastic and good enough to carry an event series. Superman looks solid, bold and the epitome of the heroic character. Gone is the scruffy beard and back is the curly hair. The new character is intriguing due to her technological suit (with neck belts!) and assured facial expressions. In another sequence a pickup truck driver has a perfect amount of attitude and machismo (he kind of looks like Colin Farrell actually) which instantly makes what happens to him more interesting. God knows a bad personality is not something you want to see on a person with powers!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The issue sets things up nicely and certainly has a somber tone that makes you feel reflective, but what is happening to Superman doesn’t feel completely genuine at this point. I won’t spoil things, but it’s a theme we’ve seen many times before and so far it doesn’t feel unique enough, at least from Superman’s perspective. The ancillary events are most likely going to make this story feel fresh, but out of the gate there isn’t enough there to make me feel confident it’s a new take on an old story.
♫ Memories! ♫
Is It Good?
Superman #51 is great in large part because it makes Superman feel human, somber and alive. His scenes with Lana and Lois will remind you Superman’s greatest strength is his heart.