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


Uncle Screensaver said...

I see they altered the cover from what was solicited. The linework between the eyes, especially. In any case, 'm excited to be reading Superman on a regular basis!

Dave Mullen said...

"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. "

I would point out that the emotional urge was different between the two men as one set of parents had died quite early in his life while the older Superman's parents had not. Hence no urge to erect statues in his Fortress, and those are memorial statues after all.

I enjoyed this issue and was left surprised to have done so. It isn't the easiest of premises Peter Thomasi has to write for, and it really isn't the way a Superman relaunch should be formatted by, but right from the very first page the atmosphere and tone of this Superman book was refreshingly reassuring and a world away from the desperation and deep angst that tended to hover over the young Superman. I was struck when putting it down that apart from Clark reminiscing over his battle with Doomsday to Lana not one punch was thrown in this story. There no fights here, no bitter arguing, just two people talking and dealing with a loss. I thought no better example of what a superior Superman this is than his winning over Lana Lang so quickly, despite the incredible situation he presents by confronting her. He puts her at ease in a very natural and rational manner that I can simply not associate with the younger Superman, he was a character so emotionally volatile I doubt he had it in him to inspire that sort of faith and trust like that. Bar Greg Pak's Superman that is...

I found it a very good read in all. Indeed I am thinking higher of it all the time.

Martin Gray said...

What a lovely issue. I'm OK with this Lana reckoning she could break into the tomb, after all, she's an electrical whiz these days, and Steel's girlfriend - who knows what she has in her kitbag.

So, new bet, next issue begins with Superman using his heat vision to shave off his beard... maybe as Krypto scratches at the front door of the farm.

Anonymous said...

With the scene from Superman #52 with energy from the New 52 Superman's death striking both Lois and Lana and foretelling of the New 52 Lois becoming Superwoman and facing the mysterious Ultrawoman, could Ultrawoman be Lana? That would reminiscent of the Silver Age story where both Lois and Lana temporarily gained super-powers and fought over Superman.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I truly hope that Lana doesn't become evil. That would stink.

But there does seem to be optimism these days. Always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

As for Lana getting New52perman's "soul," did you notice the panel in the Fortress where Lana is holding a crystal and it says "Kryptonian genome recognized."? Hmmmmmm.

Gerry Beritela

Unknown said...

I have a question .
If new 52 is the altered timeline due to flashpoint,
then how pre flashpoint and new 52 superman are different ?
Please help.

Jay said...

So where did the other two bolts go? There are four in total. Two hit a mark on-panel. Two cascade outward to parts unknown. Are two other characters going to start displaying Superman-like characteristics? I could see it being a situation where maybe they figure out that to bring new 52 Superman back, the four recipients of his "full essence" have to unite together for some sort of ritual. Only Lois and Lana don't know who the other two are. And what if one isn't willing to help? Like a certain bald mad scientist who hates Superman anyway?

Also interesting is that I've been operating on the idea that they were going to retcon this Superman as being the proper Superman of this Earth. But in the most recent interview, Jurgens is still insistent that he's from a parallel Earth. And if the New 52 IS actually pre-Flashpoint Earth, just altered as Rebirth tells us, wouldn't that actually make New 52 Superman the pre-Flashpoint Superman? In which case is it Superdad that's going to be revealed to be an entirely different version? Could be somehow be the original Kal-L instead?

Anj said...

Good pick up on the other 2 bolts Jay. I assumed they just dissipated. The idea they sought out others is very interesting.

As for the New 52 being the tweaked pre-Flashpoint, I suppose it opens up the idea for the older Supes to be anyone. Or another pre-Flashpoint Superman?

Jay said...

Oz says neither are who they think they are, so we'll see. And Jurgens in that same interview then asks the counter question of, is Oz even right in his assumptions? So it sounds like there's to be many twists and turns. I just hope there is a plan and that plan sees fruition and isn't botched by Berganza and co as so often happened in New 52 tales.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to pick up the new Superman books, but this seems like a great take on the Man of Steel, so maybe I'll collect the "Superman" titles. I was interested in your opinion on one of the only elements in this book that bothered me - doesn't it seem like Kara is going to get short thrift with this new Superman "moving in" to the Fortress and, basically, stealing her inheritance? He even picked up the crystal meant of rher and then turned off the message. I was hoping (albeit not optimistic) that Kara would take on the mantle in a very literal sense. :(