Monday, February 27, 2023

Review: Superman #1

If you told young Anj that one day I would have 5 copies of Superman #1 in my collection, I'd say you were crazy. But it is true. 6 if you count Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 as part of that. Byrne/New 52/Rebirth/Bendis and now Dawn of DC era Superman #1 all have a place in my collection.

I suppose Action Comics is the granddaddy of them all so the Superman book can be rebranded for a little first issue buzz. The Bendis era wheezed to an end. The Jon experiment was ... an experiment. And Dark Crisis, in theory, rebooted everything. So with Clark's secret identity back in place, the Joshua Williamson/Jamal Campbell era covering Superman begins.

This feels very much like a new start to the proceedings. There is a whole new dynamic between Lex and Clark, one I don't know if I truly understand. But one I am interested in reading more about. Lois is acting as editor to the Planet. There are some creepy villains lurking in the background, one performing experiments on other creepy villains. And, sliding in as a minor detail that surely will pay major dividends, Jimmy's girlfriend moved in with him. Chances she is a creepy villain? 98%.

Williamson clearly is having fun here. He has a good feel for the characters and their voices as everyone sounds right. The pacing is right with action mixed in between the story to keep momentum up. I am eager to read more of his Lois. And let the debate begin! What music does Clark listen to?

Jamal Campbell's art is always lush and beautiful. He really shines here. In particular, the quieter, character moments are filled with such emotion and heart. The art adds so much that it all explodes. I hope there has been enough lead time that Campbell can keep up the pace. 

There is one thing that does bug me a little, about the Luthor plot, but I suppose I can explain it away. I'll get there. 

After a one page flashback to Smallville where we hear Ma and Pa talk about young Clark marching to a different drummer, we are in the present where Superman is stopping a Livewire tantrum.

I love this double page spread. Within the folds of the cape, we see some moments from Superman's life that led him here. I guess there is a 'desperate scientists' All-Star vibe from that Jor-El and Lara pic. But check out the rest. The loving Kents. Lex in Smallville! Superboy!


During the battle, a voice is telling Superman all the more vicious ways he could end the Livewire battle. It turns out to be Lex.

I was very very worried that somehow Lex had bugged or v-chipped Superman. But I don't think that is true. 

And this gets to my problem with this plot. Why is Superman tuning into Lex at all? More on this in a bit.

Great art here. I love Superman checking out his shirt to see if the lightning burned it. We were so close to an 'it tickles' line.

Livewire is attacking the wedding of her prior employer because she was canceled. Sort of a silly reason and I am sure put in to capitalize on a 'you can't cancel me' joke in our 'cancel culture' current society. 

We also meet a new cast member, police chief Neo Kekoa. He cuts a dashing figure with his vest, white hair streak, mustache, and ponytail. He certainly evoked a certain sort of Vartox vibe. 

Hopefully he survives longer than the last new cast member I liked, firefighter Melody Moore.

This might be my favorite moment in the book. In all the mayhem, the officiant for the wedding took off. So Superman does what Superman would do. Presides over the wedding and then joins in the fun!

I love it when I see Superman do small things to show what a good person he is!

Back at the Planet, Clark is typing up the story, his headphones blasting music. I think he is a classic alternative guy. I think he is listening to some New Order. But I might be projecting.

It is here that we learn Jimmy's girlfriend moved in. It is here that we see that Lois has stepped in for Perry while he recovers. And she is just as fiery as he is, storming around the place, yelling, and even saying 'Great Caesar's Ghost' at one point. The red tint of the second panel really amps up that hot feeling she is giving off. 

Despite all that, I love how Clark is eating it all up. He loves her! When art and words complement each other, comics are at their best.

On the roof, Clark admits that he eavesdrops on certain people to keep track of their doings. So he is always listening in on Lex (among others). That is why he heard Lex in the first scene. I guess that makes sense. 

But here in lies my problem.

One of the best recent moments in Superman comics was Manchester Black telling Lex that Superman doesn't think about him at all. And yet, here we see that Superman thinks about him all the time. I guess I can explain it away with Black just getting one last jab into Lex and that it was a lie. But if that is true, too bad. Because Superman truly not thinking about Lex is beautiful. 

I had to include this panel just to show off the art. I hope Jamal Campbell gets the opportunity to draw the Superman Family. His Kara is stunning!

But the reflective moment is interrupted by LexCorp rebranding itself as SuperCorp. 

With Lex in jail, Mercy Graves has taken over Lex's plan. SuperCorp will put all the power of Luthor's company behind Superman and the joint mission. 

So much to love about the art. Mercy Graves has never looked so sexy and buff. I see a SuperMobile! And some of the costumes in the back look familiar. I even like the techs wearing red cloaks, akin to the cape.

But what the heck is the mission? I still don't 100% understand what Lex wants Superman to do. I don't understand why now he wants them to team up. And for Superman to lead. It feels all wrong.

Perhaps it is self-preservation. Superman next battles the Parasite and what appear to be gosling Parasites. 

But the Parasite has been altered by someone hidden under a shroud, someone who is an enemy of Lex's. Someone perhaps injured in the fire in that headline? Someone with some scientific savvy? Someone we see operating on Bizarro?

So who is it? My guess is it is a new character. But if they are after Lex, why not attack him directly, now, when Luthor is a member of gen pop at Metropolis prison?

Whoever this is, I don't even know if they are the big bad.

Not when we see Brainiac looming out there somewhere.

I know he probably has nothing to do with this new evil surgeon. But a Brainiac story by this team! That is something I really want to read.

Anyways, I thought this was a very good issue. I like this creative team and there was a lot to like here. But since I don't think I quite comprehend what Lex wants, and as that is the spine this run is being built on, it isn't a home run. 

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Lovely review. Indeed, this was a fine statement of intent. Heck, if nothing else we have a Superboy career in the modern canon. Hopefully we’ll see a story before it changes again.

I was fine with Superman listening for Lois, as she’s his wife and knows; and Jimmy, as he has the watch. I’m only good with Supie listening for others if they have given permission. This Lex business is bound to be shortlived, though, so I’m OK to see where it goes, and Lex’s ‘hobby hints’ made me grin. Presumably the mission he has for Superman is to stop the veiled villain.

I also liked Winking Kara, she’s brought back a Super Family tradition.