The New 52 Superman is dead. Whether or not he stays that way remains to be seen, but for the time being, Superman fans of old can rejoice as their favorite superhero has returned. Will the return of the Post-Crisis Superman (the original Doomsday killing/mullet wearing Superman of "Death of Superman" fame) return Superman comics to their glory days of the 90s? Only time will tell, but Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman #1, part of DC Comics' new Rebirth initiative is off to a good start. Even if long term, and returning, Superman comic book fans have questions about their favorite incarnation of the Man of Steel's new lease on life.
What's Happening: Post-Crisis Superman, his wife Lois and son Jon (all from the Pre-Flashpoint/Post-Crisis DCU) are settling into life on their new farm as Jon begins to wrestle with controlling his new powers. He has an excellent mentor, his father Clark Kent is Superman after all, and they live far from any interloping neighbors, with the exception of one neighboring family's curious young girl, who stumbles upon a scene involving Jon that can only be described as shocking. Young Jon's frustrations concerning his burgeoning powers, and his need to keep them secret, might find an outlet though after a late night visit from Batman and Wonder Woman. The kind of outlet that Jon has been looking for...
The Writing: Peter J. Tomasi had a large hand in the glorious epics that were "The Sinestro Corps War," and "Blackest Night" and contributed immeasurably to the Geoff Johns' guided run on The Green Lantern franchise of about a decade ago by writing Green Lantern Corps Vol 2. Johns' run was one that redefined not only Green Lantern, but DC Comics in ways that the early 90s "Death and Return of Superman" story line did. Now, Tomasi is tasked with heading up the new flagship Superman title of the DC Comics Rebirth Era, and I can't think of better hands for my favorite superhero of all times to be in. Tomasi understands that character, and characters, are what make for a great Superman story. Without a great supporting cast, Superman becomes dull. "The Death and Return of Superman" along with "The New Krypton Saga" were such great stories because out of them came a number of great supporting characters who contributed immensely to Superman's viability, not only as a character, but as a property. Tomasi lays some solid groundwork here in Superman #1 as concerns Jon, and I can't wait to see where "Son of Superman" takes both Clark Kent/Superman and his son Jon.
The Artwork: Speaking of previous Green Lantern franchise glory, Patrick Gleason was the artist who revitalized The Green Lantern Corps and had a major hand, just as Tomasi did, in the whole revitalization of the Green Lantern franchise by bringing Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps tales to brilliant life. In Superman #1 Gleason uses his thick lines and almost manga-like expressionism to bring Tomasi's vision of this new/old Superman to brilliantly vivid life. Gleason was a master of the inherent space-oddity that was the backdrop of GreenLantern Corps, but demonstrates here that he is a master of the Earth's mundane domestic cow and chicken as well as it's greatest superhero and son.
The Verdict: There's plenty to love about this inaugural tale of the return of the Superman that so many long term comic book readers consider their Superman. The verdict on whether or not this somewhat inherently awkward reintroduction to a Superman that DC Comics was determined to be done with, (by replacing him with a young, unmarried, and more tortured version of the character) will revitalize their Superman franchise remains to be seen. Plus, there's the mysterious uttering of Mr. Oz, who told Clark that he and his family "are not what they think they are," hanging over it all. If the return of the Post-Crisis Superman turns out to be yet another marketing ploy, meant to only last one business quarter (or two) before fading back into the complicated mists that DC Comics continuity has rapidly become, they might lose this Superman fan forever, not to mention more than a few others. Superman #1 does breathe new life into a franchise that was gasping for a new lease on life though. Bring on the Rebirth, for now.