Just last month, the New 52’s Superman died, leading pre-“Flashpoint” Superman to retake his mantle in “Superman: Rebirth” #1. Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray pick right up from there in “Superman” #1, which focuses much more on Clark, Lois and Jon’s home life and isn’t afraid to explore how this new/old Superman will be different from what we’ve seen in the past.
In many ways, last week’s “Action Comics” felt like a Superman title straight out of the ’90s, down to the same cast of characters and their old, familiar roles. However, while “Superman” #1 stars that Superman from days of yore, it feels a bit fresher than its predecessor. Sure, we’ve seen Clark and Lois raising a son (most notably Chris Kent from Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert’s run), but this comes across different, possibly because the Kents are hiding far away from Metropolis; this isn’t just Clark and Lois worrying about their son’s abilities remaining a secret, but three people whose lives need to be tucked away.
Along those lines, “Superman” #1 feels as much like a new Superboy storytelling experience as a “Superman” story. I like seeing Clark and Lois interacting with one another and with Jon, but it’s Jon who steals the spotlight here. From a horrific accident caused by a misuse of his powers to realizing that he may have outed himself as non-human to a stranger, there’s a lot going on here. The final scene of the book — which involves Batman and Wonder Woman — is best, though. Here, Tomasi and Gleason create a scene that’s scary in the way it’s presented through Jon’s eyes, especially since it lacks the dialogue that could frame it in a less-threatening manner. It’s good storytelling.
Gleason is an artist who continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The opening sequence at the New 52 Superman’s unmarked grave is bleak and visually moving; Gleason, Gray and colorist John Kalisz give us a scene with muted greys and greens as well as a strong use of a silhouette. It’s haunting, even as it also accentuates the strange mystery of the handprint without dwelling on it. I also like how well Gleason and Gray draw the Kent family on the farm; Superman comes across as a genuinely strong but not exaggeratedly so, while Jon is wonderfully eager in his poise when he asks to help or genuinely wistful as he stares out the window. This is a nice looking comic.
“Superman” #1 is a little slow in some aspects, but it’s enjoyable. Tomasi, Gleason and Gray have carefully crafted what the home life of the Kents is like, and the conflicts that happen here are small and internal even as the outside world starts to close in on them. It’s a good take on the characters, and I’m ready to see more. All-in-all, “Sueprman” #1 is an above-average start to the series, with lots of potential for some genuinely great super-heroics before long.