It’s happened. Brian Michael Bendis has arrived at DC comics, bringing a tale of Superman and the being that destroyed Krypton. Is it good?
As previewed in Action Comics #1000, Man of Steel #1 sees Rogol Zaar plead to the other cosmic players of the DC Universe to destroy Krypton. Bendis gives Rogol a decent motivation: the warlord believes that the Kryptonians have run rampant, subjecting lesser worlds to war and oppression in the name of scientific pursuit.
After this cosmic opening, Man of Steel #1 turns to Metropolis and the issue really opens up. The scene is a simple one, Killer Moth has set his sights on Metropolis, believing he’ll fall under the radar of Superman. Bendis’ dialogue shines here, and the interplay between Moth and Superman is a lot of fun. Bendis has earned his fair share of criticism for his dialogue sounding “samey,” but he gives Superman a charming playfulness here that avoids superfluous quips. Part of this is the pacing of the dialogue set by Bendis and letterer Cory Petit. Even in the longer sections of dialogue, there’s a measured spacing between the lines that keep Superman in character rather than seeming like a fast-talking wiseguy.
The artwork in the book really gives it an elevated feel. The two-page spread that introduces Superman to the book is beautiful to look at. Ivan Reis’ pencils really capture Superman’s massive frame, but also the ease with which he can capture smaller villains like Killer Moth. Joe Prado’s inks are subtle, but they do a fantastic job emphasizing the action in the panels. Jay Fabok handles art duties in the issue’s last two pages. While it isn’t quite clear why the artist switch was needed, it isn’t distracting in any way.
It’s the colors by Alex Sinclair that really take the cake here though. The golden glow he gives to nighttime Metropolis makes for a truly idyllic cityscape. And a sequence in which Superman rescues citizens from a massive fire doesn’t work without Sinclair’s furious oranges and yellows.
Not everything works as well as these sequences on Earth. When the narrative cuts back to Rogol Zaar’s meeting with Appa Ali Apsa, the book feels like it comes to a dead halt. As of right now, Rogol Zaar just isn’t interesting enough. Hopefully future issues can develop him further.
Is It Good?
The new era for Superman is here, and if Man of Steel #1 is any indication, it’s going to be a good one. Brian Michael Bendis feels like he has a good take on Superman’s character, and the artwork by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair makes this a wonderful debut. While the villain Rogol Zaar doesn’t quite pop, Superman certainly does, and that’s what’s most important.