Review: Superman #1

The fallout from the Man of Steel miniseries has Clark Kent looking at the world through new eyes… with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis kicks off his ongoing run with Superman #1 picking up directly from the miniseries The Man of Steel. And that’s part of the issue with this number one, without reading that miniseries, you may be lost. Superman #1 doesn’t feel like a fresh start as much as the diverging point of a story split between it and Action Comics. It feels like many of the key moments of the issue directly tie into the miniseries and without knowing the details, the moments would be a bit confusing.

But, beyond the issue if this “first issue” not being easy to dive into for new readers, the comic itself delivers such a different tone and direction from the previous Rebirth run. Up to this point, Superman has been focused on action with a lot of hope and positivity. It was a perfect example of a “bright” superhero comic. This one is a somewhat brooding Superman and Clark who are left alone in Metropolis while his son and wife are off in space with Jor-El. This is both good and bad.

Bendis has a talent of delivering heart to the character and that’s where a lot of this has been focused so far, getting the character down right. You can feel the emotion, and feel bad for Clark. We’ve all been there so it’s an easy thing to relate to. But, even though I can relate to it, it’s not something that has me excited to read more of. Those brooding moments are mixed with a lot of action and this is where things get a bit better. There’s some interesting concepts like Superman having to dart off quickly to save the day. But, even then, we’re presented with one of the oddest coversations with Martian Manhunter which challenges Superman’s role but feels like such an odd thing for Martian Manhunter to say (you’ll need to read the comic, no spoilers here).

The art is pretty good with a look that feels like a mix of retro and modern. Ivan Reis is joined by Joe Prado on inks, Alex Sinclair on colors, and Josh Reed‘s lettering. There’s a good mix of the action and the sadder moments. The scenes in space and Earth flow effortlessly and don’t feel like they’re two different stories. The characters themselves all look good with some good detail. There’s also some interesting page and panel layouts. There are some small details that are a little odd as far as facial expressions, for instance when Superman rebuilds his Fortress of Solitude, his face looks kind of evil, not so happy.

There’s nothing particularly bad about Superman #1. It brings the emotional moments but delivers such a different tone from the previous creators it feels dour, a departure from the “happier” direction of Rebirth. It’s not that this direction is a bad idea, it’s the tone of it all that makes it a bit of a chore to read. The fun has been sucked out of the series. It’s not enough for me to tap out but the series has gone down a few notches in my excitement to read what’s to come.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Ivan Reis
Ink: Joe Prado Color: Alex Sinclair Letterer: Josh Reed
Story: 6.75 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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