Superman #39 review

Well, it's taken a few issues, but Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr have come up with a Superman story that had me smiling from beginning to end. 

Last issue saw our hero defeat super-creep Ulysses with a new manifestation of his heat vision that left him with no powers for a day. Then he tweaked his costume and, pretty much on impulse, revealed his secret identity to Jimmy Olsen. 
This month we see Clark and Jimmy hang out in Metropolis, as the former answers the latter's questions about how it feels to be super. It was an ironic moment for Clark to tell Jimmy he's Superman, given he has no way of proving it until the powers return, but the Daily Planet photographer knows Clark well enough to believe him. 

Back at the paper, a production meeting is interrupted by news that a gunman has taken a hostage nearby. Clark rushes out, supposedly to get the story, pursued by a worried Jimmy and the super-competitive Lois Lane. By the time the latter pair reach the alley, Clark is in costume but most likely still de-powered. Can Superman reason with the bad guy, or will he be finding out if he can stop speeding bullets again?

It's a great scene, as we see how Superman's biggest power is his heart - he can inspire others to be brave, and good - to do the right thing. And Johns and Romita don't stop there, with the beginnings of the new relationship between Clark and Jimmy proving convincing and touching - there's a page of Jim's initial reactions and it's pitch perfect. 
Perry is on good form too. 
And as for Lois, she's at her classic best. This is the woman who should be at Superman's side, and I know that one day she will be again. 
The big insights involve what it feels like to be Superman - how he perceives weather, what super-taste means, whose tapping keyboard he can't help tuning into... it's wonderful work from Johns, well-interpreted by Romita and much more compelling than issue after issue of Ulysses and his bad hair choices. 

The nearest we get to a supervillain this issue - well, apart from a kite-eating tree - is the mysterious guy who's been spying on Clark for half a year now. With Johns off the book any second, I'm wondering if we'll ever find out what's up with him, or whether he'll be just another floating stained glass door in space >cough Scott Lobdell<. 
It's deeply odd that Romita can draw a fine Clark Kent while his Superman face is not just off-model, but ugly at times. And the Man of Steel's costumed legs look terribly spindly. I'd love to see what Romita could do with the classic uniform - I suspect he'd be a lot more comfortable with that, and things would look all round better. Just looking at how the cape now connects to the tunic is painful. 

All in all, though, this is the best issue of Superman since #20, when Scott Lobdell was on great form and guest artist Aaron Kuder showed why he deserved to be given a Superman book (and if you've not been reading his current Action Comics run with Greg Pak, you're missing a gem). It's ruddy typical that Johns is off the book just as he looks to be getting into a groove, but I can't deny I'm excited to see what upcoming writer Gene Luen Yang comes up with. Romita's still going to be around - I believe he's doing a solo issue before that - so I hope his version of Superman clicks soon. I want him to succeed here, because there's so much energy in his work that I could see him, paired with regular inker Klaus Janson, producing a run that's memorable for all the right reasons. 

Editors Rickey Purdin and Eddie Berganza would also do well to keep Hi-Fi around as colourist, and Sal Cipriano as letterer - I do like the latter's playful way with the credits this time. Laura Martin colours Romita and Janson's grabber of a cover image and sets just the right tone. Everyone really is on fire this time - like Clark Kent this issue, the creative team show just how extraordinary regular folk can be.