By Koppy McFad
June 27, 2008 - 23:31
This issue marks the debut of James Robinson as writer of the SUPERMAN title. Robinson is best known for his run on STARMAN, a book that debuted in 1994 and ran for some 80 issues. It received critical acclaim and was only cancelled because Robinson wanted to bring the story of the lead character to a close.
STARMAN was known, not for its heroics but for its unique story-telling, its unusual, iconoclastic hero, its colourful supporting cast and picturesque setting-- the city of Opal. The book dealt as much with the human side of the lead character and his interaction with the supporting cast and the city, as it did with fighting crime and saving the world. Yet it also remained well entrenched in the DC Comics universe, featuring old-time characters who barely anyone remembered like Captain Fear and the Red Bee.
It appears that Robinson is trying to adapt this style to Superman. His first issue does not even show the title character in action. Instead, Superman engages Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) in a conversation about life while playing fetch with Krypto, the Superdog. This gives the reader a look at the optimism and humanity behind the superhero, contrasting it with the harsher outlook of Hal Jordan.
Meanwhile, a half-naked super-being arrives in Metropolis and begins beating up the city's new high-tech police force, the Science Police. Old-timers will recognise the new arrival as Atlas, a creation of Jack Kirby who appeared in only one comic--- back in 1975. (assorted cameos not counted.)
Robinson spends so much time with the Science Police, it is clear that he has bigger plans for them. Perhaps he could have found a better way of introducing them as the Sci-cops serve pretty much as punching bags. It is only at the last page that Superman confronts Atlas-- just in time for a cliffhanger ending.
It is always good to get a look into Superman's head and heart, to see what motivates and sustains him. Considering all the embittered, obsessed heroes out there, Superman actually stands out even more for his optimism and faith in humanity. The look into Krypto's mind is even more enjoyable. He does not talk or even 'think' like Snoopy does, but this Superdog has his own thought processes that are endearing-- and almost realistic.
The art however is a bit messy. The colours flow together carelessly so some panels look confusing. Sometimes it is hard to tell what is going on. Did the character smash the Daily Planet globe or did he throw it into the air? The reader shouldn't have to ask himself things like that . Atlas is depicted inconsistently. Sometimes, he seems like a giant, other times as a normal-sized man. Atlas also looks more chubby than muscular. Yes, body-builders aren't necessarily that strong but Atlas should at least look intimidating.
Hopefully, the creative team will get over these teething problems quickly and deliver a Superman run worthy of the character's status as the world's premier superhero.
Rating: 7 /10