“Superman” #0 features the debut of the title’s third creative team, Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort (moving over from “Superboy” and “Red Hood and the Outlaws” respectively), on what should be one of the company’s flagship titles. While a trip back into pre-destruction Krypton has all sorts of interest-level problems inherent in the idea, the two have the hint of something good in the near future.
Saddled with another origin story issue, Lobdell avoids the early days of Superman (no doubt in part because that’s being tackled every month in “Action Comics”) and instead jumps back to before Superman’s birth. Jor-El and Lara are both still alive, Krypton is whole and there’s something odd going on within the planetary core.
Part of the problem with a story set on Krypton is that we’ve seen so many different incarnations of Superman’s homeworld, and none of them are that compelling. Interpretations have varied from the scientific and emotionally sterile to the more wild and rambunctious planet. Lobdell wisely splits the difference; the science aspect is still alive and well (after all we need them to be advanced enough to send Superman to Earth), but with secret conspiracies and an entropy cult, it feels like a mixture of all of the different ideas from the years. Lobdell more importantly tries to add in a bit of a kick to his story about a dead world by unearthing a mystery of something that once resided in the core of the planet but has now vanished. Presumably this is a storyline that will be continuing sooner or later (perhaps in the upcoming crossover with “Supergirl” and “Superboy”), and it gives the reader a hook to care about this origin story. It doesn’t hurt that Jor-El and Lara both feel like actual characters instead of faceless parental figures; anything that give a kick of energy to Kryptonians is a good deal in my book.
The big star of “Superman” #0 is Rocafort’s art, though. I wasn’t crazy about his brief run on “Action Comics” that closed out the series before the re-launch last year, so I’d been bracing myself for this issue. Clearly Lobdell’s working with Rocafort on “Red Hood and the Outlaws” this past year makes a big difference; Lobdell writes to Rocafort’s strengths as an artist. The opening page of Jor-El in his exploratory suit with the computer graphics popping up all around him looks fantastic. It actually looks and feels like a glimpse of the future. Then you turn the page and we get a jaw-dropping and beautiful vista of an underground cavern within Krypton. It’s richly textured with lots of little nooks and crannies, and Sunny Gho’s colors complete the image with a deep, rich glow. “Superman” #0 looks wonderful and I’m now convinced that Rocafort is the right choice for “Superman.”
“Superman” #0 is one of the books with the most recognizable comic origin stories already connected to it, so it was nice to see Lobdell and Rocafort try and veer away from it as much as possible. This has definitely been one of the more troubled titles since the re-launch, so hopefully this is a sign that it’s going to finally find a direction and some stability. Could it be? There’s only one way to find out.