Superman Rebirth: #1 review

Superman is dead. At his tomb in Metropolis, another Superman waits. Below it, Lana Lang plans to take the remains of her friend, bury him in Smallville by his parents. When Lana is confronted by a familiar stranger, a plan is set in motion - bring a newly dead hero back to life. 

I like Superman: Rebirth a lot. It goes exactly where the story should, pointing out that the pre-Flashpoint Superman, who migrated to this world after his own vanished, also died. And came back. So of course he expects his counterpart to return, if he can duplicate the process that brought him back after his own death at the fists of Doomsday. Writers Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason use the meeting between Lana and Clark to reintroduce this Superman to readers who've not been following the excellent, just-closed Lois & Clark series, recapping his biggest battle and return. There's a bit of tension between Lana and Clark, but both are similar enough to their counterparts that an easy partnership soon forms. Clark doesn't tell her that Lois is here too, that they have a son, and Lana doesn't push - she would respect the privacy of her Clark and so trusts this one has his reasons to go light on the detail. 

We're very much in a sci-fi landscape as the story shifts to the Fortress of Solitude but the characters have a real humanity. I love this insight into how she sees Clark; despite having shared wild adventures, he's still more the boy next door than the superhero. 
And when Clark sees a certain display of statues in his other self's Fortress, he has the same reaction many of us did when it made its debut a couple of months back, and sets up the final page. 
The pages by penciller Doug Mahnke, inker Jaime Mendoza and colourist Wil Quintana are beautiful, from the dynamic recreation of the Death of Superman sequence to the beginning of a friendship between Lana and Clark. The body language, the expressions, in their first encounter, for instance, is perfect. 
The artists' cover is nicely done - I think it's all close-ups for the DC Rebirth one-shots - but I'm not keen on the intensity of this Superman, the burning eyes is a cliche I associate with the New 52 Superman, and that guy is gone. There's a variant by Andy Park and while I like the concept - which again, seems to run through the line - the face isn't Superman, and the shiny costume is off-putting. It's well done, but not for me

So does New 52 Clark return? You can probably guess that the answer is 'no', most likely a 'not yet'. So far as the older, bearded Clark is concerned, his counterpart is not coming back, but he's darn well going to honour his legacy by stepping up and being, once more, a Superman for the world. He's stepping out of the shadows and I'll be with him every step of the way.  

Comments

  1. Stepping up after all those years in hiding playing house. Yes this is the Iron Age Superman, who ran from a crowd, and quaked on a mountain top. The very reason I quit DC Comics as a kid, is back - leading me to quit DC Comics again.

    http://superman.nu/theages/History/iron.php

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    1. You seem to have an intransigent view of who Superman is - I just read from continuity to continuity, enjoying the good and discussing the bad. This is closer to the Superman approach I like, but I'll be happy to see the New 52 Superman revived, as he surely will be... Give the big blue guys separate planets and let us follow both!

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    2. Those pages and the attitude behind them look like the online equivalent of newspaper clipping strew serial killer walls.

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    3. Li, a Highlander ref, yes? I must watch that one day.

      Simon, er....

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    4. A Superman died(?) Now we have:
      An older Superman
      A female Superman
      The Super-Man
      A Superman in an armor

      Four Supermen. A fifth possibly resurrecting.
      Any deja-vu? ;-P

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    5. Oh loads - and we're getting the post-Flashpoint Cyborg Superman again in the new Supergirl book.

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  2. This is a Superman story. This is my Superman. This is the Superman I grew up with, learnt to read via his comics, believed in him no matter what. This is the real Superman.

    He gave New52 Superman the space to grow, allowed him to become a hero of his own strength. He 'hid in the shadows' because this world was not his. This world had its Superman. Clark made a life for his family. Protected them. He allowed the limelight to be on New52 Superman, because it was not Clark's place to steal it away from him, from a grieving young man trying to find his identity in this world. It was not Clark's place to steal New52 Superman's legacy away from him.

    And in the end, Clark honours him. He honours New52 Superman's legacy.

    This Clark and Lana encounter shows us the difference between the world's.
    Clark's world is one of hope, optimism and blind belief. While in stark contrast, Lana has given up hope, because her world is that of scepticism, non-belief, and hopelessness (this is probably why the Superman of that world has to die).

    I'm glad we're returning to world of hope, legacy, love and belief. It's about damn time.

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    1. And well said, you put it in a pithier manner than could I. Let's hope for great things for Superman and his loved ones - and bad guys.

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  3. Nicely put, Martin!

    I like where Superman is headed, and, by all appearances at this point, DC as well.

    This isn't MY Superman, not exactly, but it sure is a LOT closer than the New 52 "Superman" ever was. As I wrote in my own review of this comic: It's great to be enthused about Superman once again, and this comic gives readers a lot to look forward to.

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    1. Thanks Doug, I'll watch for your piece, it's not yet up at CBR, so something to look forward to!

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    2. And here's a link to Doug's rather fine review at Comicosity! http://www.comicosity.com/review-superman-rebirth-1/

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  4. I really enjoyed this book. Clark's opening thoughts around the importance of good men doing good things couldn't help but make me think of the current Captain America conversations currently going on. I love the last page with his tribute to New 52 Superman.

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    1. I realise I don't know where you stand on the Captain America business, Maya. I've never really thought of Hydra as Nazis, I'd never even noticed that Hail Hydra, recalls something else in its alliteration and stance. Even now, though, they're just another of Marvel's all-purpose cults. I hear that some people who are upset do realise it's all a feint, or Cosmic Cubery or something and that Cap isn't a Nazi, hasn't ever been one, and yet are still really upset. I just never realised Cap had so many fans to whom he represented so much - his book must be an eternal best-seller.

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    2. That was my first Cap book in years, and while I figure in the long run they won't have Cap as a killer who has worked for Hydra since he was a lad, but it still hurt. Not only because of writing an iconic heroic archetype character like Steve that way (though mostly) comes off as disrespectful, but also because the tropes of "you only thought you knew him" or "these heroes really aren't heroes/ grimdark secrets" are tiring after a lifetime of reading comics. Oh well, it saves me money in the long run, lol.

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    3. Spend the money in old comics! I've just downloaded a couple of old Wonder Womans I already have somewhere, #227-228, first series - the Judy Garland v Hephaestus story - and I've been smiling ever since!

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    4. That's true. I could do that. I'm trying to be satisfied with just owning a digital copy, it's kind of tough. Judy Garland?

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  5. I thought Clark never put up a statue of of Ma and Pa Kent, because they were ALIVE! Even when they died, they have actual grave sites to mark them, while Jor-El and Lara have nothing at all. It's not about parity, but equity.

    Aside of that, the real, true, Tulpa Superman is back. :)

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    1. I lose track of which parents are alive these days. At least in the Silver and Bronze Age you could depend upon Superman being a double orphan, and that stinky Kara having two sets. TWO!

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    2. Well, blame Lara and Jor-El. Zor-El always gets the short end of the stick, that he wasn't as smart as his older brother, but he was the one who had the forsight to be in a city where he'd survive and then survive again through the Survival Zone. HA! Plus, Clark could have joined an orphanage after the Kents died but he didn't! He at least must have thought about them for some time as the first thing he does for his only living relative is stick her in one, when he wasn't exiling her for sharing her secret with Kryto, or mournfully, longingly explaining Krypton's rules on cousin weddings. Oh, in the Bronze Age, Superman was briefly not an orphan when his dad came back from the dead, albeit briefly. So there.

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    3. He didn't come back from the dead, he was time travelled by aliens. So there!

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    4. Actually Uncle's right. Those aliens managed to revive Jonathan because they could, rewarding him for saving their planet or so in a Superboy story that set the things up. Jonathan was consistently aged and went back in the afterlife after his wish was fulfilled.
      That was a wonderful touching story, only diminished by the fact that Superman was the only one remembering his dad should have been dead, which it was pointlessly dumb, since he forgot everything in the end anyway. But it was great.

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    5. It's definitely one of the best stories of the Bronze Age, actually, it's in my Top Ten Superman stories ever. But details... Oops!

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    6. I read it in one of those amazing DC digests from back in the day. It was in a Best Stories of the Year. It was mature but it still kept that bright and strange Superman world alive. Those stories are evidence that DC never had to reboot to the extent it has (continuously).

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    7. Please, I thought you were too classy for crowing!

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  6. This was good. This and the final issues of N52's series made the N52 Superman into the hero he always should have been. Pre-Flashpoint Clark isn't just a doppelganger, he and his world were indeed different from this one, and this isn't simply a trade-off. Nicely done, although the art didn't quite work for me where Superman was concerned; the face seemed distorted. Maybe the beard threw them off?

    Anyway, it's a good start. Looking forward to Superman.

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  7. This wasn't available at my local shop today.

    On the plus side I got to pick up Darkwing Duck comics instead and there's always the previous week shelves for next week, so.

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    1. Simon, you are such a grown up. I'd be pulling faces. Still, Darkwing Duck...fun.

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  8. It only now just occurred to me -- and maybe because I'm completely dense -- that the New 52 Superman has died, and there are four people replacing him: The pre-Flashpoint Superman, the Chinese Super-Man, Superwoman, and Lex Luthor.

    That setup sounds a little familiar.

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    1. Indeed. And hey, at least you spotted it, I had someone point it out at solicitations time. Pretend I'd have gotten there in the end!

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  9. I thought this a waste of my time, to be honest. I bought it hoping to get an idea of where they were going from here. Maybe a little of the new status quo so I can decide which books to follow. Instead I got a recap of the New 52 Clark's last story arc and a flash card pre-New 52 Superman's death. It was a prologue more than a new start. I guess I'll stick with what I know and only buy Superman and Super Sons. The rest sound toxic by their descriptions but I'd been hoping for some sign of whether that's true or not. Oh well. Only cost me three bucks and almost that many minutes...

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    1. That's a shame, Steve. I don't suppose your comic shop will let you swap it for something else?

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