Superman #1 Review

Most DC Comics are rated T for Teen. Some are E for Everyone. After this issue of Superman, I suggest another, EBPL - Everyone But Pet Lovers...

For anyone who didn't read Superman: Rebirth, this issue begins with a superbly staged graveyard recap, showing that the New 52 Superman is dead and the older Superman from another Earth is going to fill his shoes. On the farm newly occupied by Clark, Lois and Jon Smith - previously White - 300 miles north of Metropolis, lightning strikes, wrecking the barn. Young Jon, who's just found out that his parents came from a parallel world, and that he's part-Kryptonian, is alarmed, then thrilled. 
And when it's time to raise a new barn, the cute tyke is all prepared. 
Soon, though, he finds that his own burgeoning, untrained powers can be a curse as much as a blessing. I'm not showing you the panel, but see that cute pussy back there? Suffice to say, you won't be seeing her again, and Jon, who was trying to save Goldie from a hungry eagle, is devastated. He's too shocked, and maybe embarrassed, to tell his parents what's happened, and instead gets angry. 
It's a nice scene, full of truth - of course a bright kid constantly drilled with Ma and Pa Kent-style morality would be confused. 

This issue also sees the introduction of someone who could become a good friend to Jon, addresses the Mr Oz mystery and features a wonderfully spooky visit from Batman and Wonder Woman. 
Writer Peter Tomasi, penciller Patrick Gleason and Inker Mick Gray do a lovely job of showing us Jon's point of view - there's real wonder in this scene. Jon's whole world has been turned upside down and while super-powers are super-exciting, the new world he's been thrust into can also be super-scary. 

I don't know why the Kents/Whites are now Smiths - good luck to Jon when he has to sign his name at his new school - but I do love this family unit. Tomasi is as good as fellow creator Dan Jurgens at capturing the rhythms of family life and I'm looking forward to lots more. 

And Lois on writing is just gold. 
Gleason and Gray's version of the Kents - well, that's who they are to me - is pretty darn adorable. Lois looks especially great with her new hairdo. The art is attractive throughout, Gleason and Gray are up there with the best when it comes to body language. Colourist John Kalisz brings the moodiness with the opening graveyard spread, ensuring the Technicolor montage that quickly follows really pops. And Rob Leigh does his usual top job with the lettering.  

The main cover by the interior art team is a jolly preview of things to come, while the variant by onetime regular artist Kenneth Rocafort is, er, different. 
Scenes of cat horror apart - the creators should have gone off-panel with that moment - my only problem with this well-done debut is that even at DC's commendable $2.99 pice point this is a really quick read. There are more spreads than necessary - do we really need Superman doing the shirt opening thing across two pages, for example? We don't. And the 'My dad is Superman' pic of Jon is charming, but a full page? Give us a little more story for our money, avoid Cats in Refrigerators and I'll be here every month. 


  1. Hi Martin,

    Great review as ever and I'm in total agreement regarding the depiction of Goldie's fate. I have no problem regarding what happens, but was it really necessary to actually show it so viscerally? Surely a reaction shot would have been better. It's a real shame as I liked the rest so much that I'd have liked to share it with my son (a very advanced for his age 5) but there's simply no way I'd show him that scene for at least another five years. It's a shame, as this is Superman, and shouldn't be the sole preserve of adults my age.

    Usually I'd agree with you regarding the prepondrance of splash pages in issue 1, but on the whole they worked, especially the dps of Superman's origin (possibly the best depiction since All Star Superman's first page) and the shirt opening reveal, which seemed earnt and showing what was a familiar scene in all a new found glory.

    1. Hello Carey, thank you so much for dropping by. Is your son so bright that he'd notice were you to show him a copy of this issue with the cat panel covered over? Or do you read digitally, perhaps you could crop a screen grab of the page and toggle to it when you get to that page in the comic?

      Heck, you don't need me to be suggesting workarounds. I'd love to know what you've already shared with your lad. Scooby-Doo Team-Up? Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade?

      And I do see what you mean about the shield review. It is earned, and I liked it lots, but when so much we have so much else in the way so big drawings. That origin spread, DC might have given it to us free as a wraparound cover - when was the last time a comic book did that?

    2. His tastes are very much in the moment at present: he recently announced that his favourite superheroes are the Hulk and She-Hulk, so I've bought him Hulk: Agents of SMASH to read, but he wasn't interested in the Hulk: Man or Monster Epic collection. From a UK perspective he loved last years Panini Spider-man annual; Lego Star Wars and Doctor Who Adventures (although he continually says he's too scared to watch the actual tv show!-). He's also a great fan of Dark Horse's Plants vs. Zombies, and enjoyed a lot of the kids selection of the Free Comic Book Day releases this year. A lot of his tastes are dictated by other media: a while back when visiting our local comic shop he insisted I buy him the firsts issue of Aaron and Cassiday's Star wars, and he absolutely loved that. Unfortunately I can't find issue 2, and he's not interested in the trade collection.

      For several years I was cover artist on the UK reprints of Scooby Doo and have a large collection as a result of being sent free copies, and he enjoys reading those. He also liked reading an issue of Panini's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I drew!-)

      As may be obvious from my last paragraph, a lot of his comic love is inherited from me but it has to be said I started reading comics around the same age and similarly based on licensed characters. He's also of the age where it's not important to him if he reads every issue of a story: a comic is a physical piece of entertainment to be enjoyed in one go to him. The aforementioned request for issue 2 of Star Wars was a rarity. I get the idea he likes floppies, and may find trade collections too intimidating (while I say he's 5, his 5th birthday is actually a couple of weeks away) but on the whole, he loves words, and he I genuinely feel comics are a great way to promote that.

      Sorry if I've taken up a lot of your comments with tales from my son, but my feelings toward comics are actually similar to those towards growing with Doctor Who: they can be at their best when they cater to all ages, utilising symbolism and metaphor that is accessible to 5 to fifty year olds. They're at their worst when simply out to shock, and I feel that tendency is overwhelming in comics at the moment.

    3. No apology necessary, this is great stuff - - your last post had me wanting to read more, so thank you. And a graphic artist! Where were you when I was commissioning Bugs Bunny covers in the early Nineties (at school, probably!)? It's brilliant watching a youngster's tastes form, I've been feeding comics to my friend Will's lad Harvie since he was a toddler. He's now 12, just got Marvek Unlimited for his birthday and the stabilisers are well and truly off!

  2. I agree that this issue was ridiculously decompressed. Many good character moments but not much for an actual story. A rather uninspiring first issue. I hope he's building toward something that won't make a trade collection seem like an incredibly expensive single issue.

    Goldie's scene was horribly done. Did their dog morph into a cat at the same time their names mysteriously changed? They've just moved in themselves, but Lois should have welcomed the "new neighbors" who moved in "a few weeks ago?" This all seems sloppy, as if Tomasi didn't have enough time, or (grrr) an editor tampered and didn't review it. (Paranoia? Absolutely!)

    I like the art. Stylish, expressive. Rocafort's variant is a nice idea, but undeveloped. Again, seems rushed. But the team telling the story is a good fit.

    Okay, all that aside, as I said, these were nice character moments. And I liked Batman & Wonder Woman appearing to ask questions. But we're treading water overall. Soooo... let's see what comes next.

    1. Good spot on the odd timeline. And I suppose we should be grateful the doggie from Lois & Clark was absent, he'd not be safe!

  3. I didn't care for this at all. The Goldie scene was terrible and in my opinion unnecessary. Meanwhile Clark and Lois are written as sitcom parents. Ridiculously clueless. When a child is extremely jazzed for something one moment (exploring his emerging powers) and then depressed and uninterested the next? Something is clearly wrong. Jon was acting out of character yet his parents were oblivious.

    I know it's an easy out to write parents without functioning brain cells, but we do have them. It isn't just when they are in their teen years, as mine are, that one has to pay attention to change in behavior. It is at every step of the way. Clark telling Jon he doesn't want to make him do anything he's uncomfortable with was a complete missing of the point.

    The question should have been "you were excited about this now you're not, did anything happen? I am here for you" Then when they discuss the missing cat and Jon acts out again (clunky!!), come on now. You have two investigative journalists and one of them is Superman. This was just foolish.

    1. Thanks Maya, for more parental insight. Do I forgive too much? Or maybe I just don't have the experience to notice these things. Of course, you're right, Lois and Clark should be a lot better than they're presented as here. Maybe the end of the issue is a pointer towards Clark having realised something is upsetting Jon?

  4. Yeah, that moment with Goldie seemed excessive to me, too. Very effective -- it put you right in Jon's head as he sees the horror he's wrought -- but maybe not the best choice for the venue.

    1. Hopefully this isn't indicative of more bad choices to come.


  5. There's such a difference in how Jon has been handled by Jurgens, that Tomasi's turn is like nails on a blackboard. Cue the trauma, sullenness, and the needless angst. Even his hair goes from cute little boy, to Damian Wayne. Pak had N52 Superman set an entire field on fire, an "accident" to introduce his heat vision, and this is in lock step with that. It's a good thing people don't blow up ovens in order to learn to use them. That poor cat. SMH.

  6. Great point about Greg Pak having coved this ground already. I'd not made the hair connection, oh dear, it's like he's preparing for that team-up book.


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