Review: Superman #1

After upending Superman’s status quo by showing the real reason why Krypton was destroyed and blasting Lois Lane and his son Jon into space, writer Brian Michael Bendis returns everything to normal in Superman #1. Not really. Bendis and majestic artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado with blockbuster colorist Alex Sinclair show that even idealistic heroes get the blues in the proper beginning to Bendis’ Superman run. There is plenty of saving the day, but also sadness over the departure of his wife and son, whose communicator is broken as well as one hell of a final page hook.

In a single image of Superman shooting off into space to find his family, Reis and Prado show that they can handle both emotions and wide screen action. Superman #1 is a comic where the Man of Steel defeats a Dominator armada before they can even come close to invading Earth and also one where Clark Kent sits alone at home and reminisces about Lex Luthor expose related pillow talk with Lois and misses convincing his son to go to school even though he can fly, has freeze breath, and heat vision. Sinclair’s colors are really what sets the tone from explosions offset by the primary colors of Superman’s costume to the bleak darkness of the Fortress of Solitude’s new location at the Bermuda Triangle and the sheer eeriness of the final pages. Blue, yellow, and red are a constant, but the amount of light that shines on the crest of the House of El varies depending on the scene. It’s like a visual thermometer for hope.

Bendis’ gift for dialogue is what helped him stand out in the comics scene for better or worse, and it serves him well as Superman has one extended, pivotal conversation with the Martian Manhunter plus a couple small, yet great interactions with the Justice League and “himself” in Superman #1. For example, in a single page, Bendis and Reis nail the humility of Clark Kent as a slightly, self-congratulatory piece about the Fortress of Solitude moving location gets deleted, and Kent decides to write something that helps someone by following up on the ongoing, still unresolved arson subplot. Journalism isn’t just a day job disguise for Superman; it’s a powerful weapon in his fight for truth and justice even if it could be tempting to use his byline at the Daily Planet as PR. Reis and Prado do a close up on Clark touching the frame of his glasses to really sell the humility.

The conversation between Superman and J’onn is probably Bendis’ strongest scene yet as a DC Comics writer. Past writers have made the fairly obvious connection between Superman being the Last Son of Krypton and Martian Manhunter as the Last Son of Mars. However, Bendis goes a little deeper and has J’onn show empathy for Superman after he found out that Krypton wasn’t destroyed by natural causes, but by the genocide of Rogol Zaar. He writes J’onn with empathy, nobility, and patience as Superman keeps interrupting their conversation to help people and then creates a little bit of a gap between them when J’onn suggests that Superman play a more active role as a world leader instead of just a superpowered volunteer firefighter. Openly placing himself as superior to humans goes against Superman’s code so he declines J’onn’s idea while still listening to him. It might seem like a good idea, but remember Injustice Gods Among Us. 

Superman #1 is a full showcase for the talents of Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis with Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair on both a macro and micro level as they show while also show him emotionally coping with missing Lois and Jon and the loss of his Fortress of Solitude while also dealing with an extremely powerful threat connected to the events of Man of Steel. The book succeeds as both a character study and superhero blockbuster, and Bendis and Reis continue to seamlessly weave in Superman and Clark’s “co-workers” in the Justice League and Daily Planet to enhance the narrative.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Pencils: Ivan Reis Inks: Joe Prado
 Colors: Alex Sinclair Letters: Josh Reed
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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