In November of last year, shockwaves were sent across the comic book industry when it was announced that veteran Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusive, “multifaceted, multilayered” deal with DC Comics. However, amidst the pandemonium, the question quickly arose: Which series would Bendis pen for the distinguished competition?
It didn’t take long for us to get answers because, in February, we learned that Bendis’ first full-time work for DC would be Man of Steel – a six-issue weekly miniseries illustrated by such all-star artists as Ivan Reis, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Ryan Sook, Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes and Jason Fabok. Then, upon its completion, he would become the main writer on both Action Comics, beginning with Issue #1001, and the core Superman title, which would receive a new Issue #1.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because it very much mirrors John Byrne’s transition from Marvel to DC back in 1986. Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Big Blue Boy Scout was given a revamped origin story in Byrne’s six-issue, bi-weekly miniseries, The Man of Steel. Once that title wrapped up, Byrne took over on Action Comics, which retained its original numbering, and Superman, which was relaunched with new #1.
Of course, Bendis has already made it clear that his Man of Steel story won’t go to quite the same extremes as Byrne’s. “For people who know their history, they know the original Man of Steel miniseries was as hardcore of a reboot as we’ve ever had,” Bendis said in an interview with CBR. “That was throwing everything out and starting over again. So when they hear Man of Steel, older fans go, ‘What? Huh?’ No, no, no — it’s a celebration.”
Nevertheless, for as much as Bendis has stressed the difference between his and Byrne’s approaches to making the Man of Steel their own, there’s one undeniable similarity between the two miniseries that’s plastered right on the cover of Man of Steel #1 – the logo.
The cover art, drawn by Ivan Reis, inked by Joe Prado, colored by Alex Sinclair and lettered by Cory Petit, features “The Man of Steel” branded across the top of the page in large, block-like embossed text. This, of course, is the same logotype that was used on the cover of Byrne and Dick Giordano’s The Man of Steel #1 Special Collector’s Edition (aka "Variant Cover" in modern comic book terminology), as well as the cover of the trade paperback collecting all six issues.
If nothing else, this subtle Easter egg is a fitting tribute to Byrne, who – despite becoming something of a controversial figure in more recent years – is arguably one of the most influential Superman storytellers of all time.
Man of Steel #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jason Fabok, Alex Sinclair and Cory Petit, goes on sale May 30 from DC Comics.