Review: Superman #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Author: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Colors: Jamal Campbell
Letters: Ariana Maher
Review by: Derek McNeil
Superman #1: It’s DC Dawn! Superman is back in Metropolis and Lex Luthor’s greatest enemy is finally behind bars. The future of the Superman family has never been brighter! As Clark Kent comes back to life, iconic and new enemies emerge from the shadows to strike down the Man of Steel! But waiting in the wings to support Big Blue is… Supercorp?! What secret task has Lex given Superman?! “A hero is only as good as their villain” will be tested in this all-new oversized #1 featuring comics’ greatest superhero from DC Comics architect Joshua Williamson and award-winning superstar artist Jamal Campbell!
This week, DC continues its work The dawn of DC initiative with Superhuman #1 (and Catwoman #52). Rebooting the Superman series is not unheard of, as this is the sixth volume of the title. However, it is notable because the previous volume was replaced by Superman: Son of Kal-El, starring Clark Kent’s son, John. Thus, the eponymous title of Man of Steel returns after an absence of a year and a half.
Superman’s other main title, Action comics, has undergone a format change involving the entire Superman family along with Superman. However, it looks like the focus of Superman will be more on Superman and his classic supporting cast. In this first issue, we see Clark working as a reporter at the Daily Planet with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. I was very happy to see this, as this side of Clark’s life has not been very popular in recent years, especially after the public revelation of his dual identity.
We also learn that Lois has taken over as acting editor following Perry White’s recent heart attack. This is sure to affect the dynamics of Lois and Clark’s relationship, especially considering her statement that she won’t go easy on any of the staff, including her husband.
Since she is aware of and supportive of her husband’s other life, I doubt she will interfere with his ability to act as Superman. But we also see that Lois is already feeling the stress that comes with the job. I’m sure Lois is up to the task, but she may face a tough time as she gets used to it. And Clark may find himself powerless to help Lois in this.
Also, Superhuman #1 clearly sets up Lex Luthor to play a major role in Williamson’s story. But will Lex be the main antagonist – or will he side with Superman? While the issue seems to be heading towards the former, the final page drops a tease that Lex might not be the show’s big bad.
And Lex does something about this that appears on the surface to be a benefit to Superman. He grants Superman ownership of Lexcorp, recently renamed Supercorp. Luthor’s gift of the company’s resources and technology could be a huge help to Superman and the people of Metropolis. But Superman senses there are ties and tries to refuse Lex’s offer. However, he is informed that unless Superman takes ownership of the company, all of Lex’s employees will be out of a job, leaving half of Metropolis unemployed.
There are some nice easter eggs scattered about the theme. Lex communicating with Superman by broadcasting on a frequency that no one else can hear is the same method he used to first communicate with Superman Superman: The Movie. And Lex’s hologram mimics Jor-El’s hologram from the same movie. And the Superman logo that appears on the cover and epilogue of the book is the classic logo. But it is colored like the crystal version from the Christopher Reeve movies.
Also, when Superman visits Supercorp, the Supermobile is visible in the background. This vehicle has rarely been seen in recent years except for Peter J. Tomasi’s excellent Super Sons and at McFarlane Toy Super Powers action figure line.
Also, when Jimmy mentions his girlfriend, Lois mentions a number of his past girlfriends. These all refer to real women that Jimmy has been with in previous stories. I love that one of them is ‘the gorilla princess’, making a reference to the very odd but absolutely brilliant maxiseries Pal Jimmy Olsen of Superman by Matt Fraction. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and do so.
The issue ends with a series of panels that tease some of the upcoming adventures Superman has ahead of him in future issues of this title. Above these panels, we hear a voice speaking to Superman. This ends with a final panel revealing who the voice belongs to. And he is indeed a classic and very powerful Superman villain. Williamson is clearly hinting at a big clash with this villain in the coming months.
Jamal Campbell’s art fits this title very well. All characters look exactly as they should. And I love how it captures the grandeur of Metropolis. We can see that it is truly a metropolis not only in name, but also in scale. And its clean lines and bright colors characterize it as the city of tomorrow that it is often called.
Superhuman #1 has a main cover, twelve standard variant covers, and five aspect ratio variant covers. That’s eighteen different covers. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, DC has a bad variant cover problem. Sure, it’s great for those readers who just want to pick one or two of the variants, but it really takes advantage of the completists who want them all.
Now Superhuman #1 isn’t the most blatant example of this, but it’s the latest in a long line of books with too many variations. The first issue of a new Superman series deserves a few extra variations, but eighteen is more than a little overkill. Still, it’s not as bad as his last two issues Action comics. Action #1050 had 27 covers to mark an anniversary issue. But the anniversary was not even to mark a multiple of one hundred, but of fifty! And then they followed that up the next month with ten covers for Action #1051 to signal the book’s new direction. For what’s holy, please lighten up on the constant barrage of multiple covers, DC!
Joshua Williamson won me over with his amazing run The lightning. And I thoroughly enjoyed it Infinite borders and Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. So I come with high expectations for this title. And if Superhuman #1 is any indication, it’s going to live up to those expectations. And Jamal Campbell’s artwork is the perfect choice to bring Williamson’s story to life. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming issues have in store for Man of Steel.