Review: Superman #1

Superman #1

Growing up, I was never much of a comic book reader.  I didn’t grow up with Superman, didn’t grow up loving the Man of Steel, and so when I finally did start reading comics late in high school, and get really interested in comics in college, I never understood the adulation he got, his place in the pantheon of All-Time Pop Culture Greats.  I thought he was boring.  Who cares about an hero who can’t get hurt?  Who can do everything?

Then came Grant Morrison’s game-changing All-Star Superman, a book that showed the Man of Steel at his most powerful… and, at the same time, at his most vulnerable.  Afterward, my view of the character was fundamentally changed: I no longer saw him as an inherently juvenile character, but as a much more adult one.  Unlike many of the character’s equally famous contemporaries, Superman’s story – dealing with pining for a woman you can’t have, marriage, holding down a job, etc… – seemed much more grown up than I had given it credit for.

And while Morrison’s excellent Action Comics #1 returns the character to his activist roots, positioning him as a twenty-something rebel trying to fix the world, George Perez and Jesus Merino have a much more traditionalist view of the hero.  Superman #1, taking place a few years after Action Comics, deals with a character firmly in the throes of adulthood. The Daily Planet, now a struggling newspaper, has been bought by a powerful businessman looking to control a media empire, causing a major rift in the relationship of reporter Clark Kent and new Vice President of New Media, Lois Lane.  Clark wants to fight the system, reject their ownership by a media conglomerate with a less than stellar reputation for human rights, while Lois wants to use this new platform to try and change the company from the inside.

Superman #1 is a throw-back to an earlier age of comics storytelling.  Text-heavy captions filled with purple prose describe events while Superman deals with a done-in-one alien menace trying to burn Metropolis.  There’s no excessive gore or sexuality, and the art (done by Jesus Merino on Perez’s breakdowns), paneling, dialogue and storytelling are all fairly simplistic, ideal for newer readers.  But I don’t say that as a negative.  In an era when everyone is trying to push the envelope by throwing in all the sex and death they can dream up, Perez’s take on Superman is charmingly lightweight.  And while the issue is far from flawless – the dialogue in particular is an issue – it’s still a decent, mostly enjoyable all-ages title, not aiming too high and meeting its mark with ease.

– Cal Cleary

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5 thoughts on “Review: Superman #1

  1. Had to love the return of “truth, justice and the American way” even if it wasn’t used in regards to Superman himself. And some reason I can’t help but feel Mr. Edge’s wording at the start was also a way for the writers to address this relaunch itself. That matter, a lot of this issue felt that way,

    And in terms of the “Text-heavy captions” I just found those annoying. Yes, it reminded me of older comics as they use to do that a good deal but I didn’t see the point. For the most part it was stating exactly what we could have figured out by looking at the images. Hell, you take those out and put them into wordpad and you could follow the comic without any art at all! So w000, great return to an older style of comic book writing but it generally made me feel like they thought the readers were idiots or that there was little faith in the art to convey what was going on.

    But minus being annoyed by that, it was a pretty good issue. I just don’t think I’ll continue with Superman if this is how it continues.

    • This was the second New 52 reference to the media going digital (the first being in Batman #1) and implication of the “death of print”, which was always going to get my attention since I’m a newspaper journalist by profession. You can’t help but see its relation to the DC relaunch in general.

      Also, I noted the similarities between Global’s reputation and the troubles Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has gotten itself into in Britain with hacking and such. Interesting.

  2. The issue absolutely blew dog!!!

    DC has ruined Superman because they lost the law suit. Too bad these greedy douchebags had to act this way and get spanked by the S&S family! Serves them right.

    Georges book was just horrible and he should be shot for putting it out.

    I hope DC gets their head out of their asses and get back to real stories and not this gimmick.

    • Superman isn’t ruined. The story I thought was decent, just those darn annoying boxes telling me everything that was going on which I saw in the art anyways! Anyways, if you are thinking Superman is ruined it makes me think you haven’t read Action Comics #1 then. Yes its a reimaging of Superman but its amazing. Morrison ftw.

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