Friday, June 3, 2016
Review: DC Rebirth Superman #1
#Rebirth is finally upon us and the main characters in the DCU are all getting Rebirth Specials as a way to leave the New 52 continuity behind us and enter into this bold new direction.
Superman Rebirth #1 does exactly what it is supposed to do, transitioning us from one Superman to the next. It is both a eulogy for the New 52 Superman, a primer on the pre-Flashpoint now current Superman, and a look into the future. Unlike other titles which are just re-envisioning their characters, the Superman books are getting a brand new version ... that is, an old version ... that is, and old and new version of the character. This story bridges that turnover.
Writer Peter J Tomasi is listed as co-storyteller with artist Patrick Gleason. The two are the primary creative team moving forward on Superman so I am glad Gleason was part of the process. The art is done by old favorite Doug Mahnke. I thought this issues was a winner.
And so we say goodbye to the old, look back at the even older, and head into the new DCU with a fresh, new, albeit classic Superman headlining his book. I for one am thrilled.
Onto the book!
The New 52 Superman has been buried in a tomb outside Metropolis. A giant S-Shield plaque is on the grounds but the classic "Superman with eagle on his forearm" statue hasn't made it their yet.
Two people tightly bound to the New 52 Superman are on the grounds for very different reasons.
Lana is there to fulfill a promise. She was tasked to get Clark's body and bury it next to the Kents'.
Superman is there because he believes that the New 52 Superman can be resurrected if brought to the Fortress in time. After all, hadn't be been entombed like this himself, only to rise again.
There is a lot to like about this opening scene. From Lana's initial hug of this Clark, thinking it is her's brought back to her condemnation of this Superman pretending to be the one she knew, Lana is strong and dedicated. She wears her emotions on her sleeve. Now it is a stretch that she could be trying to blowtorch her way into the crypt unnoticed ... but I'll let that slide.
I also like how this Superman isn't willing to simply let this Earth's die. One thing that was a bit weird for me in the last arc was the New 52 Superman's fatalism in accepting his fate. I am glad this one is willing to go further.
Lana and Superman come to terms with their separate mission. This Superman tells her of the time he died at the hands of Doomsday. It is a nice, succinct retelling of that story, including his return that is probably needed for newer readers. Heck, that story is 20 years old now.
But even in this retelling there are nice touches. This Superman talks about it was thinking about life without Lois that spurred him into unleashing his last punch on Doomsday. One of my biggest problems with the New 52 was the lack of Lois. So I thought that was a great line.
And this Mahnke take on the classic death page from Superman #75 was spot on. Beautiful.
Superman talks of the regeneration matrix which brought him back. He wants to bring the New 52 Superman's body to the New 52 Fortress to try to replicate the resurrection. Older readers remember that it was the Eradicator that brought this Superman to the regeneration matrix, definitely Byrnes' K-tech. Nothing like what we have seen in the New 52. But I guess it is worth a shot.
Unfortunately, this Superman doesn't know where that Fortress is located.
Somehow Lana does now. Since her Superman died, she just knows. Hmmm ....
That takes me back to this panel from Superman #52, pointed out to me by blog friend Mart Gray, who had it pointed out to him by someone else. This has to be a key panel for what is upcoming.
As Superman is dying, he explodes out in energy striking both Lois and Lana. I assume this is where Lois gets his powers. Maybe it is here that Lana gets his 'soul'?
Maybe it is the love of these two women that are keeping that spark alive? Enough to inevitably bring him back?
I still like my idea that the dead Superman is merely Denny Swan.
Heading to the Fortress, Lana and Clark are amazed by what they see.
But one thing they don't see ... a regeneration matrix.
Hope is lost.
And then an interesting moment for me as a fan.
I am a fan of the old school, 'lessons from Pa made me who I am', 'man first, Super second' kind of Superman. A good soul who has embraced his humanity and considers Earth his home.
As such, I have held the pre-Flashpoint Superman up as the classic Superman. And I have castigated the New 52 Superman as an aloof brute.
And yet, it was the New 52 Superman that honored the Kents with statues in the Fortress (albeit very recently). It wasn't the pre-Flashpoint Superman that gave proper respect to his Earth parents. It is a bit of a twist for me, seeing the two Superman differently.
It was, as if, I had become so set in my ways of thinking of the New 52 that maybe I overlooked some of the good it gave us. Fascinating ...
Even Superman realizes that is was some emotional oversight.
There is a theory both Supermen are in fact a split Superman. This could be grist for that mill.
With no chance for a true rebirth, Superman helps Lana bring the body to the Kent farm. There she insists on digging the hole herself.
I have always been a Lana fan. I loved Superman saying both Supermen were lucky to have a Lana Lang in their lives.
But that last panel of Lana breaking the Earth to bury her friend was powerful. Small in size, but powerful imagery. The universe is looming behind her, but this is personal. This was my favorite panel of the book, essentially ending the New 52 Superman's story.
But now it is time to turn the page.
The pre-Flashpoint Superman is now *the* Superman. It is time to embrace that role. But first, he honors the Superman who came before him on this planet. He is added to the Kent statue.
Everything old is new again.
As I said before, this story did what it needed to do. We got to say our goodbyes to the old Superman. We got to welcome the older/new Superman into the fold. And we got some powerful personal moments, like any funeral should have.
I am hopeful for this upcoming era for the Man of Steel.
Overall grade: A