Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Superman #1 - A Review

The biggest complaint many have about Superman is that everything is too easy for him. He has so many superpowers it's almost easier to list what he can't do, his weakness are largely negligible and there's few villains who can match him physically or mentally. This attitude has resulted in far too many dull stories where Superman had to fight increasingly numerous and/or powerful enemies, which only further fueled the complaints that Superman is boring and stupid.

Thankfully, Superman #1 by George Perez avoids the vicious circle by making The Man more important than The Super. Perez's focus here is firmly upon the man behind the cape and the myriad of problems that can't be solved by punching something. Indeed, Perez's script draws off of the headlines of today - particularly the slow death of the American newspaper as well as the Newscorp Phone-Hacking Scandal - and showcases the many problems that both Clark Kent and Superman are powerless to solve, such as monopolization, systematic corruption of the media and, of course, Clark's love life or lack thereof.

As the issue opens, the original Daily Planet building has been demolished with the company having been bought by billionaire and CEO of Galaxy Communications Morgan Edge. Most of The Planet's crew have happily jumped ship and taken up new positions, including Lois Lane - the new Executive Producer in charge of coordinating the digital and television wings of the newly formed Planet Global Network. Clark, for his part, is highly skeptical of his new boss's business practices but is sticking with his job as a reporter in the print division lacking any other options. The issue splits focus between Superman attempting to stop a robbery only to wind up facing some sort of strange fire creature as Lois tries to cover the alien attack from a control booth and butts heads with both the scandal-minded Edge (who cares more about getting good footage than his employees' lives) and a news anchor who seems to want to spin every story to make Superman look bad.

I had to double-check the credits page to make sure that George Perez didn't do the artwork in addition to the writing on this book. He did do the breakdowns, which may explain why this issue looks so much like one of his old Wonder Woman comics. I don't know if artist Jesus Merino was intentionally aping Perez's style, putting scads of tiny details into every single panel no matter how small or trivial, but it looks good regardless. Merino fills every panel to the brim with action, making even the scenes in the newsrooms seem exciting.

I've never been a big Superman fan but between Action Comics and this book, I may become one yet. Perez introduces us to the characters and establishes their world masterfully and does a great job of making the world of Metropolis seem timely yet timeless with Merino's artwork captures that world perfectly. All in all, this is a solid read for all fans of The Big Blue Boyscout and anyone who has ever wanted to believe that a man can fly.

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