After a disappointing opening for “Superman,” my initial instinct was to wait until the writer-switch scheduled for “Superman” #7 and give the book another whirl then. But with other books having found stronger footing with each issue post-relaunch (for example, “Suicide Squad”) , I figured it was a good a time as any to dip back into “Superman” and see how things were doing.
Unfortunately, “Superman” is still limping along, and with little sign of improvement. Perez’s scripts still fall far too wordy; there is lots of talking about what’s happening rather than letting the art tell the story. (Considering that Perez got his start in the comics industry as an artist, this is a little surprising to find here.) The bigger issue, though, is that none of this feels terribly fresh or original. A witch-hunt against Clark Kent as a journalist? Superman getting grilled by the police? Superman in general coming across as an inexperienced and befuddled newbie? (Isn’t “Action Comics” supposed to be the comic set in Superman’s past?) It just doesn’t work. Add in some distinctly uninteresting villains (in what is looking more and more to be a poorly realized reboot of the Eradicator) and you end up with a comic that is distinctly less-interesting than what came before, not more.
The saving grace here is Jesus Merino’s art, which at least looks fun despite not getting the most interesting material to illustrate. When the alien figures attack Superman, the different elements whipping around are pleasing to the eye, and I like how Merino draws the staff of the Daily Planet. Merino’s a good artist, and I think he’s getting stronger with time. There are some touches of early Gene Ha in this latest issue, with the shaded side-profile of Superman in the police office, and the slightly angular look to his characters. Watching Merino’s craft continue to evolve is definitely the high point of “Superman” right now.
Unlike a fine wine, “Superman” has not improved with age, either in the comic or in the real world. Perez has written a lot of excellent comics over the years, but this doesn’t feel like one of his finer hours. At this point, I’m ready to just wait until Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens join Jesus Merino in “Superman” #7. This was a nice idea for a creative team, but it’s just not gelling.