Writer Scott Lobdell, perhaps most famous for outing Northstar and turning Starfire into the biggest slut of the DCnU, begins his run on Superman by laying out a long and involved storyline that looks to spin out over the course of his tenure on the character. Hellespont, the failed villain of the old Wildstorm Universe, has returned to the pages of a Superman comic book, but this time the story of his machinations is a little more expertly crafted than it was just a few months ago. It seems that he has tapped 13 champions, of which the aforementioned Starfire, Superman, and Martian Manhunter are members of, to continue to defend the earth since Hellespont doesn't want any damage to come to it and its population. Why, do you ask? It seems that he's borrowing a page from the modus operandi of Marvel Comics' Celestials and has plans to harvest the metagene rich humans in order to save his race...sometime in the future.
The story is actually a pretty good one except that its main theme is summed up in one word: alone. It is the favorite word that the New 52 likes to associate with Superman these days. All the changes that were made to his character (the wiping out of existence of the Lois and Clark marriage, the killing off of both of Clark's Earth parents, and his new moody outlook) were designed to make him more alone and isolated, and therefore able to be half the perfect emo couple of the new Superman/Wonder Woman super pairing. Of course, Superman and Wonder Woman get together because they both feel so alone in their adopted worlds. "I have never felt more--useless...more...alone. For the first time since I became Superman...I don't know what to do next," bewails Superman at the end of Superman Annual #1. It's not without reason, but every single alien that is tapped by Hellespont's agents in this issue has some "lonely" issue that they are dealing with. If this moping keeps up, these superheroes are going to need a good ole fashioned support group for those suffering from depression. Superman shouldn't be moping and bewailing that he doesn't know what to do next. The Superman I know and love (and miss) would get to work on the problem without a moment's hesitation and lead the rest of the DCnU's heroes toward a solution...or at least get cracking on helping them come up with one.
There's a whole bunch of different artists working on this book, so a break down of the strengths and flaws of each one would amount to a review that would be lose the attention of the short attention span internet readers that might be checking this review out. The most important piece of artwork in the whole issue is the front cover image anyway. It's a great one by Kenneth Rocafort, the new artist taking over the visual chores on Superman. Even if I'm not sold on Lobdell's plans for the title yet, I am sold on the upcoming quality of the book's art.
So, once again Superman is depressed and defeated, lost and alone, and will probably head over to Diana's pad to cry on her shoulder. Such is the life of the New 52's Superman. How this makes him more appealing, I'll never know. Maybe I'm just finally outgrowing Superman...well, at least this version of him.