Progressive Panels
The New 52’s Superman #1
By Andy Frisk
September 28, 2011 - 16:19

DC Comics
Writer(s): George Perez
Penciller(s): George Perez, Jesus Merino
Inker(s): George Perez, Jesus Merino
Colourist(s): Brian Buccellato
Letterer(s): Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Artist(s): George Perez and Brian Buccellato
$2.99 US



Media mogul Morgan Edge, President and CEO of Galaxy Communications and owner of the paper The Globe and news station G.B.S, has taken over controlling interest in The Daily Planet. The old Daily Planet building has been demolished, and a new state of the art skyscraper has been raised to take its place in Metropolis. Changes are afoot, but Edge promises to maintain and even bolster The Daily Planet’s journalistic integrity by allowing the new Executive Producer of the newly christened Planet Global News’ (P.G.N.) Nightly News Division and Executive Vice-President of New Media, Lois Lane, an opportunity to bring the kind of integrity of news reporting that she became famous for at The Daily Planet to a wider audience. Perry White, the long term Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Planet’s print media, will continue to helm the newspaper side of things. Things couldn’t be looking better for Metropolis and its new found economic renaissance, due in part to the town’s superhero in residence, Superman. Only one question remains, where is Clark during all of this?

 
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Brilliantly framed within the overall theme of new media vs. old media, or more aptly how old media and new media both compliment and enhance each other, which is also a not so subtle reference to DC Comics embracing of both digital comics and print comics, Superman #1 tells a really good story on all levels, and finally one of The New 52’s books actually contains some intelligent commentary on “real world” ideas. This is something that nearly every other New 52 #1 tries to do, but instead comes off looking trite. Writer George Perez manages to pull off something in Superman #1 that the other New 52’s often failed at by focusing on an aspect of the Superman/Clark Kent mythos that receives a marginal and varying focus at times: the fact that he and his fellow Superman mythos characters are members of a quickly changing industry that has been struggling with its identity for at least a decade now. How this greater real world event, that is being played out on news television networks like CNN and FOX News as well as their companion websites, brilliantly frames what DC Comics is trying to do with Superman as a character. Superman’s identity isn’t fully defined. He is the good guy, no doubt, but how he is perceived, and how Clark is still seemingly try to find his own identity around Metropolis still mirrors the overarching theme of the new media struggling to find its new identity while remaining true to its old methods of integrity. Too often news gets Tweeted out before it’s fact checked, and then reporters and commentators have to go back and Tweet retractions or re-edit stories that are already getting shared on The Web. The instance in Superman #1 where the truck full of explosives and terrorists is destroyed in mid flight while Superman is lifting it out of the range of innocent Metropolitans, and it’s immediately Tweeted and reported on television as being Superman’s fault, only to be retracted moments later, is also brilliantly indicative of this theme.

Okay, so I’ve used the word “brilliant” to describe Superman #1 several times thus far in this review, and I myself can’t believe it. Superman #1 is really, really good story wise. If these types of stories continue, I might just be able to live with the new Superman. Putting aside the fact that I still completely believe that this type of story was capable of being just as brilliant with the Lois and Clark relationship/marriage left intact, less radical changes to the character’s ages and Superman’s costume, and one other major complaint-that I’ll get to soon-, Superman #1 works in nearly every aspect. It is leaps and bounds better than Grant Morrison’s Action Comics #1 was, and, while not as prevalent, still portrays Superman as the hero we’ve come to know him as.

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Superman’s new costume doesn’t look quite as bad as it has in some of the other New 52 books here either. It looked horrible in Swamp Thing #1, and I almost passed on supporting The New 52 Superman in anger over how bad it looked. Perez and Merino do an excellent job of bringing the new suit to life. In most panels the costume isn’t incredibly indistinguishable from its now classic design. I’ve given up on arguing for the Underoos, but I still think that the belt should be yellow in order to pick up the yellow in the S-Shield like it used to. I don’t like the red belt. At least they got the S-Shield right. Now if they could just fix Supergirl’s S-Shield and costume…Perez and Merino’s art is nearly flawless. Anatomy, action choreography, and background detail are all excellent. Again, I can find virtually no flaw with the art.

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Finally, the one aspect that I really didn’t like, and completely dread that it might stick around, is the final two page portrayal of Lois and her relationship with what is looking more and more like her knucklehead boyfriend. No woman, or man for that matter, is perfect in relationships, and we all have chosen some doozies for partners before, but I just don’t see Lois being shallow enough to be with the guy that she is with in Superman #1, no matter how good he might be in bed. While this is never directly insinuated, mature readers of this series will pick up on that as being the most likely scenario for Lois being with him. He is portrayed as basically an idiot who’s arrogant, foolish, and seems to be reveling in the fact that he’s dating (and bedding) the hottest, and one of the newly made most powerful, women in Metropolis. Lois is so much better than this, or at least she’s been portrayed as such in the past (and here too). I know this whole thing is to just make Clark more of an outcast and downtrodden type…but it would be more interesting if Clark was shown with a love interest of his own other than moping and pining after Lois. They undid the marriage, still something that I will again say was a mistake, so we if we have to deal with a single Lois and Clark then let’s at least put them on a level playing ground characterization wise. The New 52’s Clark isn’t a Silver Age/Superman The Movie type dork. He’s a handsome guy with excellent principals, who is a bit of a loner (understandable given his alter ego), but he doesn’t have to be a loser socially and romantically. Lois and Clark WILL have to one day get together. If they never do in the pages of the DCnU it will be a travesty. Even more so though, it will be a blasphemy if Lois is portrayed as continuing date a parade of moronic idiots.

Overall, putting aside what I still terribly miss about my Superman, Superman #1 is the best of the New 52 reads next to the two Batman titles in story, art, intelligence, and theme. It was honestly worth waiting till the end of The New 52’s debut month to read it.

     


Rating: 9/10

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