After freeing Warworld and having his secret identity restored by Lex Luthor, Superman is back to once again become Earth's protector! While many things remain the same, there's new threats on the horizon. Can Superman overcome the onslaught of villains in his path or will he have to listen to the devil on his shoulder in the form of a "helpful" Luthor?
Sometimes things work better when you bring them back to basics.
Between the New 52 giving Superman a darker origin and Brian Michael Bendis taking away his secret identity, there’s been a need by creators to fundamentally change how Superman operates in order to put their stamp on the character. For better or worse, all of these changes have shaped who Clark Kent is, but Joshua Williamson manages to refresh the character in a way that acknowledges his past and effectively allows him to move forward through familiar territory. That’s what makes this first issue in the new era so good and interesting; Williamson brings Clark back to the Daily Planet, but makes it so that Lex Luthor acts as something of an earwig for Superman while he’s incarcerated on Stryker’s Island, trying to “help” by pushing his superheroics into a more lethal territory as his old villains, Livewire and Parasite, begin to resurface.
Williamson is able to capture the duality of both men with Clark enjoying the ability to be a normal man again, but plagued by his own doubts of being able to save Luthor and Lex himself finally admitting that the world needs Superman, but also being the devil on his shoulder. It’s an effective method of storytelling that moves forwards both characters’ arcs and opens up more opportunities for stories with Lexcorp going through another Superman themed rebranding and an ending that hints at dangerous new threats for Metropolis.
But where this book succeeds best is through the subplots, between Clark’s other heroics, Mercy Graves and Lois Lane’s respective promotions and the reemergence of the aforementioned older villains. Superman is always supposed to be seen as a man of the people, so there’s a very fun moment when acts as the officiant for a couple’s wedding, showing that he’s able to be a multifaceted hero by hanging out and taking pictures. It’s also great to see that while Perry White is in the hospital after the events of Action Comics #1049, Lois has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, showing that she’s going to have greater prominence and responsibility to the paper and all of Metropolis. Similarly, Mercy Graves, given her own new Superpowers as a result of Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton, also seems to have an increased role in running Lexcorp/Supercorp while Lex is in jail. Joshua Williamson knows how to build a world and he’s doing a fantastic job at it, giving readers so many avenues should he decide to take any of them.
Jamal Campbell was the absolute perfect choice to helm the art for this series as his style is just absolutely amazing. Campbell showed readers his skills through fantastic art on Far Sector and Naomi, the latter of which he showed a snippet of what he could do with Superman through a cameo, and further expands on it in this book. It begins with an intense fight between Superman and Livewire which shows how Campbell is able to play with panel structure as characters and objects cross the gutters, allowing for a seamless trace for the eyes to follow as they move between everything on the page. The action is insanely frenetic as Campbell showcases Livewire’s power through big flurries of blue lightning that are countered by Superman’s wavy red streaks of flight and brute strength. Things then move to a calmer pace as Campbell slows things down to show us how Lex is handling prison and the jovial mood of the Daily Planet.
These scenes help to establish the main characters of this series with Campbell making sure to emphasize facial expressions for each person; the smirks of arrogance from Lex, the looks of exasperation from Lois and cheery face of Superman in many instances.
Campbell’s colors also make the book even more wonderful to look at as he finds the perfect way to balance them all to fit their particular scenes. While most of the colors in the book are saturated, they each convey different meanings depending on the dialogue – one such example is when Clark is sitting at his desk at the Planet, the background color is a light blue, signaling a slight bit of melancholy as Clark feels unsure about whether or not he can ever save Luthor. And Luthor himself, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, can be seen as conveying a sense of untrustworthiness and superficiality when it comes to his need to “help” Superman. This characterization can also extend to Supercorp as its sterile grey-blue tinted interior dilutes the hopefulness of Superman’s normal bright blues.
Ariana Maher’s letters complete the whole package through her excellent use of fonts, word balloon variety and sound effects! Fonts are often underappreciated in comics books and Maher does an excellent job of making sure that readers notice them in this book. From Livewire’s crackling font with a blue gradient to Parasite’s wavy word balloons with purple text color, Maher makes sure that there’s a variety of characterization to characters words that makes them stand out to standard balloons.
As always, I am a great big fan of sound effects in comics, so when they’re used as prominently as they are in this book, it’s more than enough to raise the presentation of the book by another point! Maher does fun things with her sound effects, like placing a “KA-KOOM” within Livewire’s lightning blast as the thunderous sound echoes off the page or making the font of the “SLOP” look as disgusting and green as the food that Lex is given in prison. Though as fun as these two are, nothing beats the calm “TAP TAP TAP” that follows Clark’s fingers as he writes another article for his favorite paper.
Superman stands above and beyond in this brand new era of DC Comics. Joshua Williamson, Jamal Campbell and Ariana Maher have crafted an excellent return to form for the Man of Steel with their excellent storytelling, fantastic arts and stellar letters. We can’t wait to see how the rest of this awesome story unfolds!
Superman #1: A Brighter Tomorrow
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
User Review( votes)