First Day on the Job
Look! Up in the sky!Â Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
Is it Superman?
Thatâ€™s usually how the conversation with my two year old goes when weâ€™re goofing around on the way to school in the morning.Â That also appears to be the conversation the citizens of Metropolis are having as thereâ€™s a new hero in town buzzing the skies above the city.
Mon-El, fresh from the Phantom Zone and taking on the name Jonathan Kent (complete with a proper English accent to go along with his new secret identity), has arrived in the big city, and on orders from his younger brother (see the Major Spoilers Hero History for more on that one), plans on keeping the peace.
In order to be accepted, and to gain a foothold in the community, Superman spends a fair amount of time in the issue going from compatriot to compatriot explaining that heâ€™s going away and asking them to help the new hero in town.Â What works about each of these scenes is readers donâ€™t see Supermanâ€™s face for the entire issue.Â The exception is when Kal-El pays a visit to The Guardian and we see his reflection in the polished helmet of the Science Police officer.Â Itâ€™s an odd effect as the Superman that is leaving really looks a lot like Christopher Reeve, making Supermanâ€™s exit from the title that bears his name that much more memorable.
While a majority of the issue is spent re-introducing readers to the rest of the heroes that are hanging around Metropolis (Steel, The Guardian, and to a lesser extent Jimmy Olsen, who really just needs a pal to call his own), there are a few moments of action as Mon-El takes on Rampage, and readers get hints that division 7734 and other villains are beginning to stir, ready to cause trouble for the new team in town.
By issueâ€™s end, it really feels like a changing of the guard – itâ€™s just too bad everything is temporary as anyone whoâ€™s read a comic in the last five years knows nothing is permanent, and companies are more than happy to return things to the status quo once they think the rubes have been duly tricked by the smoke and mirrors.
Still, seeing Mon-El kicking it outside of the Phantom Zone and taking over Supermanâ€™s duties in Metropolis is a pretty cool, and having tag along companions trying to teach him the ropes should lead to some interesting stories over the next year.Â Heck, I even liked the update to Jimmy’s watch and the forced friend nature of the new relationship between Jimmy and Mon-El.Â Iâ€™m hopeful that the New Krypton story line will last longer than that, as it will take that long for readers to settle in and get comfortable with the current shakeup.
As Iâ€™m making my way through James Robinsonâ€™s Starman Iâ€™m noticing similar story setups occurring in Superman – not lifting story plots, but rather in how Robinson is setting up for a big story down the road.Â Will Robinson stay on Superman for 80 issues?Â It would be pretty sweet if he did.
Art wise, Iâ€™m liking what Renato Guedes is bringing to the issue, and the psudeo-realistic styling of the characters works better in this book than I think it would in other titles.Â I also like how detailed Guedes draws Metropolis itself. Instead of vague outlines of buildings in the distance, the city looks and feels like it is honoring its name.Â The opening splash page had me staring at all the little nocks and crannies of the city for about five minutes.
Providing Mon-El doesnâ€™t let the power go to his head, and he gets taken down by a number 2 pencil, this change in the dynamic of the Superman title could really work.Â Of course I think I had the same feeling during Reign of the Supermen, but Iâ€™m going to give DC the benefit of the doubt here, and give Superman #686 4 out of 5 Stars.