The new status quo of the Superman books has a lot more in common with the past than much of the New 52. Geoff Johns, John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson draw from different media incarnations of the Man of Steel, keeping what works, and pushing forward with it. Clark is clearly going to wind up back at the Daily Planet based on Perry’s offer to help him do more research on Ulysses, and this Kent is far more Christopher Reeve in both physicality and demeanor. Both in the suit and out, Clark displays a casual confidence and charm that Reeve established in the character. The Daily Planet staff is active and colorful, full of character, similar to the team established in the ’90s animated series. Lois shows the same spark, with less viciousness, as she did in the old continuity. It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that work well when blended together.
The pacing of the issue balances the creative team quite well — the first half is top-loaded with character work and plot advancement dialogue. Clark stops by the Planet to ask for research assistance and his cover is almost blown by Ulysses who doesn’t yet understand the need for a secret identity. After a trip back to Clark’s apartment, Johns’ script goes far more sparse and allows JR Jr to open up and show why he’s one of the best storytellers in the medium. The buildup to the main action is subdued and allows the artist to show the story instead of tell. Once the green army men show up to disrupt the city and Ulysses and Superman team up to take them down, Romita and Janson are in full battle mode, showing the heft and power of the fight in the streets. The shot choices are dramatic and capture the moments of chaos in the streets well.
There’s still a slow build happening across this story and it feels like it’s going to take a few issues for us to get where we’re going. The long game seems interesting, though, and the creative team displays a swagger with this book that is refreshing for a sea of DC books where everyone is trying to look so dangerous and cool, they’re breaking their teeth from grimacing.
For a while, it felt like DC was throwing out the baby with the bathwater when it came to their interpretation of Superman. Once their flagship character who now lives in the shadow of the Bat, the Man from Krypton has been lost amid a sea of indecision about the best approach. Grant Morrison’s run on “Action Comics” started well enough but quickly became a winding maze of odd characters and dimension-hopping, leaving the plot in the foreground and how to interpret this new Superman in the background. The past few creative teams on “Superman” have been serviceable but provided no real establishment on why this was the man who launched an entire industry. With this new team at the helm, and Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder breathing new, grounded life into “Action,” it’s an exciting time to not only be a Superman fan, but to get new people in to the book. This is easily the most accessible that the main continuity “Superman” book has been in years.