Is this cover an homage of sorts of Action Comics #1? Or am I just imagining that?
In any event, as a fan of both Busiek and Pacheco, I was looking forward to their run, until I read the five-page preview Wizard had awhile back.
It struck me as such a "paint-by-numbers" story. It would just be a "day-in-the-life" Superman story with captions from Clark throughout the issue. Essentially, the same exact type of story Jeph Loeb did on his Superman run.
But now that I've read the whole issue, I think I was unfair in my initial opinion. Don't get me wrong, this WAS a "day-in-the-life" Superman story with captions from Clark throughout the issue, but the difference is that I think that Busiek is just such a good writer that he is able to make even the most straightforward story seem interesting, partially by throwing in nice, clever ideas here and there.
Pacheco (and his long-time inker, Jesus Merino) was never a concern, as I don't think Pacheco has ever had a bad issue. Maybe some issues weren't as good as others, but he is not an artist who has "flops." Although I think Lois' new haircut is awful.
I cannot even hazard a guess as to what Pacheco was thinking with that hairstyle (thanks to my pal Cayman for the scan).
One of the criticisms of the early issues of Up, Up and Away (including from me, natch) was that while the characterizations were excellent, there wasn't enough action mixed in. Well, Busiek addresses this by making sure to have a lot of action in this comic, mixed in with the character pieces.
The cleverest conceit of the issue is the whole "Clark has to do a bunch of crummy jobs to prove himself worthy of getting two plum assignments, but keeps getting called away to fight crime while trying to get all the jobs done, which are mostly attending boring press conferences." It is a good setup by Busiek, and it makes for an interesting challenge for Superman.
The return of Lana Lang as CEO of Lexcorp makes little sense, but I assume Superboy punched a wall or something, and it makes more sense. And I like the clever (unless I'm overthinking it) way that Busiek introduces a new "double el" lady into Clark's life. The more I think about it, the more I think it must be on purpose by Busiek. If so, I approve.
There is a bit in the issue that is a bit too connected to the first Superman movie, in the sense that, for a second, you think that Bryan Singer was writing the comic book, but I'll forgive the dorky moment because the rest of the issue was good and the mystery over what the moment was led to a lot of funny lines from Jimmy Olsen.
So, for a book with great Carlos Pacheco art that addressed the Up, Up and Away complaints of not enough action with the characterizations, I would recommend, with the slight reservation that, as said before, this wasn't exactly a new take on Superman so much as a just a well-written, well-illustrated standard tale.
And that's all right by me.