Time to keep that DC Rebirth rolling with the debut of the brand new Superman; featuring the creative team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who’ve done runs on Green Lantern Corps and Batman and Robin in the past together — let’s see what the two can do with one of the biggest superheroes around. Is it good?
Superman #1 (DC Comics)
The New 52 Superman is dead and now the Superman from another universe has come to take his place and honor his memory. Living a quiet life on a farm in Smallville with his wife, Lois, and young son, Jonathan, things seem to be going well. However, his son seems to be having difficulty working with his own powers…
The Initial Impression
After finishing Superman #1, I was quite surprised. I was initially expecting something rather upbeat or inspiring, given the whole Rebirth theme; instead, I found a tale that was a lot more serious with some intense imagery to go along with it. Although this seems to clash with the whole “brighter future” mantra that DC is boasting with Rebirth, it doesn’t make the issue bad by any means and I found the direction that the story was going in to be rather interesting — those of you looking for a jubilant Superman smiling while he snaps chains a la John Byrne might be surprised by the more serious nature, however.
It looks like you have the power to create blue glowing kool-aid out of your hands.
Story-wise, as you might expect, Superman #1 is primarily about setup. The narrative focuses on Superman’s family: Jonathan (Superman’s son) dealing with a devastating consequence of using his powers without training, and then a rather intense and serious ending where the kid may be in trouble. There’s also a character arc for Jonathan to go down after that horrible incident (possibly a bit too graphic and may turn off some people who were approaching this title cautiously, hoping it would be brighter) and it could be good depending on how it plays out. The only real problem with the issue is that very little happens overall and there’s very little action. The issue just didn’t feel exciting or particularly thrilling because of that and when I reached the end, I honestly thought there would be more. Superman #1 felt like it needed a few more pages to accomplish what it wanted to, like more insight into Superman’s family dynamic or maybe having a glimpse of a villain.
While lacking certainly in the story department for a first issue, Peter Tomasi still does a fine job when it comes to writing with one or two exceptions. For instance, the comic was rather decompressed at the beginning due to the use of big double or full page spreads that weren’t needed, like a close up of Superman’s face with just some small text boxes plastered all around. This is especially odd, since the rest of the book is really well-paced and moves fairly quickly, not wasting too much time on any scene. The characterization was spot-on, especially with Lois and Clark (definitely felt in character in regards to how they appeared in their recent mini-series) and their warm interactions with one another. Dialogue and narration were alright, except for the first, rather overly poetic portion. Besides that, there’s just not a lot else to critique since very little happened.
Patrick Gleason’s artwork looks very good here and it’s nice to see more of his work again. Even if the issue over did it with the double page spreads, they are wonderfully laid out and at times, poster-worthy (like Superman flying across the sky as images of his history were shown in the background). Everything looked very well detailed from the characters to each location, while the colors by John Kalisz really help accentuate each scene with the bright, warm, and cool colors (like the bit where Superman rescues a cow from a burning barn as the fire blazes around them). The characters themselves, while occasionally sporting expressions that look far creepier than they should, look great. Gleason can really capture emotion, turmoil, happiness, or fear in each character, helping to make a lot of the scenes feel that much more convincing and real. For instance, there’s a great moment towards the end of the issue when a neighbor comes to visit and she sees Superman’s son. Just the looks she and the boy give evoke how nervous and uncomfortable they are around each other. While maybe not as great as his work on Robin: Son of Batman, Patrick Gleason’s work was a sight to be seen in this comic and I’m eager to see more of it on the title.
Is It Good?
Superman #1 was a good comic, but not a great one. It was primarily about setting things up and unfortunately not a lot else. What it had and teased for the future that seems promising, the story itself here needed a bit more meat to its bones. What saved the issue though was Tomasi’s writing and Gleason’s terrific artwork, both being very good and keeping me interested in wanting to see how things play out. Overall, not a bad issue, but not as great as other Rebirth comics out there right now.