He was the first and the most iconic superhero ever created. His adventures have run for over eighty years. He has been a star on the silver screen, the stage, television, and radio. Everyone knows him, his story is a modern-day legend. But what happens when one of the most legendary comic creators of the past thirty years takes the reigns of his never-ending battle? Let’s find out in Superman #1 from DC Comics.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Editor: Michael Cotton
Cover Art: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair
Variant Covers: Adam Hughes & David Mack
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Superman: Rogol Zaar, cosmic villain and the cause of Krypton’s destruction, has been banished to the Phantom Zone. The battle was not without cost; not only was the Fortress of Solitude destroyed, but the bottled city of Kandor as well. After Supergirl banishes the mass murderer to the Phantom Zone she leaves, intent on finding the truths behind Zaar and Krypton. At home, Clark faces heartache as Lois leaves with their son, Jon, and father-in-law, Zor-El. Their intent is to show young Jon the universe and to teach him about life. Unknown to his family, the communicator he was to contact them with on their travels has been destroyed.
Superman is alone.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE…
A chance meeting in space leads Superman to thwart an interstellar invasion of Earth before it even has a chance to begin. This gives Superman a justification for his long journey from home. You see, as mentioned earlier, his family has gone on a galactic walk-about. His son Jon has glimpsed a possible future timeline where he kills millions and to help him come to terms with it his grandfather, Zor-El, has offered to take him on a journey to gain perspective. Much to Clark’s dismay Lois agrees on the condition she is allowed to accompany them. This is how Superman comes to being alone. He misses his family, worries for them and he wants to find them. Unfortunately, his only means of communication was destroyed in the battle against Rogol Zaar and the universe is a big place. He has no idea of where to start the search.
We see Superman as he deals with his absent family through a series of present-day sequences and flashbacks. Slices of daily life hammer home the fact even a Kryptonian is really just mortal, and the loneliness he feels is deep and heartbreaking. Yes, his day is filled with his job and building a new Fortress of Solitude, but the time at home is when we hurt for him.
So he works. He returns to the Daily Planet and goes about his job of writing. It’s interrupted when a visitor arrives in the form of J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, and the tone changes. J’onn has a proposition for the Man of Steel, and it seems to be a logical direction, but does Superman really want to hear it? After the end of their discussion, readers will be left with a shocking cliffhanger, and Superman may be challenged like never before.
… CHANGE IS CONSTANT.
If you did not know Brian Michael Bendis (Man of Steel, Ultimate Spider-Man, A.K.A. Goldfish) was becoming a part of the DC Comics staff, this is your wake-up call. Spinning directly out of the events of his Man of Steel mini-series, we begin to explore what it means to be Superman when you take away one of his biggest crutches, his supporting characters. Supergirl, Lois, Jon, and even his arrogant father Jor-El, have all been taken off the board as Superman is forced to find direction without them. While previous attempts to change Superman’s status quo involved changing the entire DC Universe, here Bendis compartmentalizes the changes and focuses on Kal-El’s handling of what is essentially empty nest syndrome. What do you do when you focus your life on your family, and then the focus is taken away? Bendis has a particular writing style he has honed on some of the most legendary story arcs and series over the years; love him or hate him, he can write. There is a sequence during Superman’s conversation with Manhunter that keeps pulling you away from the discussion and you suddenly realize it is supposed to. Superman is not comfortable, he is not in the moment. It very much reads like trying to have a serious conversation with a friend in trouble and they keep checking their cell phone. Bendis gets this point across with finesse, and you can’t help but chuckle when you realize it.
Ivan Reis’ (Justice League, Ghost, Avengers) art style is a great fit for this story. He has an attention to detail which is needed with Superman. Many artists shy away from great amounts of detail, but Reis embraces it. From the lines on the alien soldiers’ armor, to the pictures and appliances in the Kent’s kitchen, to the Metropolis skyline, you see it. Combines with Joe Prado’s (Earth-2, The Last Phantom, Grimm Fairy Tales) inks, it gains even more detail. Prado has a style of inking that makes me think of dip pens, it looks solid and right for the art. When it is all tied together with Alex Sinclair’s (Batman, Harley Quinn, 52) it gains depth and draws you in. The art tells as much a story as the writing and makes the story feel as if it is a team effort.
BOTTOM LINE: THE NEVER-ENDING BATTLE NEVER ENDS.
Brian Michael Bendis coming to DC was a big story in and of itself and in many cases polarized fans into warring camps. Ignore it. Ignore his time with Marvel and Image and Oni and Caliber. Do not let your like or dislike of those stories color your opinions on this or any of his upcoming DC work. It would be a disservice to a wonderfully creative writer and a disservice to yourself. The Superman which Bendis and his team of collaborators bring us with Superman #1 is a modern Superman who has the feel of the classic Superman. Superman is a template, an archetype for what the best of us should be. Go too far in either direction, too many cracks in the armor or to perfect a boy-scout, and you unbalance the character. Many writers in the past have claimed Superman was a beast to write for but if this is a feeling Bendis shares you’ll never tell by this issue. He strikes a balance of the wonder of Superman and the humanity of Clark Kent. He makes you believe the man who can fly is also the man who can feel. It was a wonderful read and an exciting direction for the character.
There is foreshadowing of future conflict as well as an amazing cliffhanger will make you sit up and take notice. I will most certainly be looking forward to the next issue.
Superman #1 looks to be the beginning of an amazing new story for the character. With wonderful characterization and a dramatic cliffhanger, you should fly into your local comic shop and pick up a copy as soon as you can.