If you have frequented a comic shop for the past few months you have no doubt noticed the poster announcing that Romita is coming to Superman. Today, he arrived. Was it worth the hooplah? Does this book make Superman a series that you should be reading?
Allow me to tell my story (it’s my blog, so you kinda have to indulge me).
As a kid, I was a fan of Superman on TV and film (plus those awesome cartoons), but only sometimes in print. I admired the character of Superman but there was something about the execution that I found lacking. It was too clean, too safe and too boring in comparison to the John Byrne’s X-Men or Fantastic Four, Frank Miller’s Daredevil or even George Perez’s New Teen Titans. It took the Crisis of 1985 to get me invested in DC Comics and the aftermath was designed specifically for readers like me. It wiped the slate clean and brought in top talent to their series, updating them for a new audience. John Byrne, Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway created a new Man of Steel in their trilogy of monthly books that was more engaging than ever before and even paid homage to the radio serials and classic TV series while paving the way forward. It was an awesome time that was also short lived.
Since 1985 there have been many creative changes to Superman including some stand out runs such as those by Kurt Busiek, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and others. Johns is a big name at DC Comics. His career is emblazoned with accomplishments that re-invigorated Hawkman, the Flash, Green Lantern and most recently Aquaman. While he has taken a hand at Action Comics, this time he is taking on Superman in a brand new way. As a comic book fan, it is incredibly frustrating to witness a rotation of creative teams come on and off a book in quick succession. On it’s 32nd issue since the New 52 reboot, this marks the fifth such change for Superman (don’t get me started on Action Comics). Despite several books on the shelves featuring big red and blue and a blockbuster movie on blu-ray/dvd, DC Comics just can’t seem to get the formula right for their most recognizable superhero in print which boggles the mind (unless you are reading the outstanding Adventures series). Much like Scott Snyder’s Batman book, this series should be a regular must read that excites fans and draws media attention on a regular basis.
And that is just what Johns plans to do.
To pull this off, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has teamed up with an icon of Marvel Comics, John Romita, Jr. JRJR (if it’s okay that I call him that) is popular for his landmark runs on Daredevil, Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, the Hulk, the Punisher, and many more. His distinctive style has a visceral punch to it that has a love/hate reaction with readers (never a bad thing in my opinion). Klaus Janson (a collaborator from the Punisher and Daredevil days) is inking the book and the colors are by Laura Martin. The new Superman team promises new threats, a new dynamic and plenty of excitement without losing touch with the source material. John Romita Jr. put it well when he said he had to ‘act’ in Shakespearean plays plus Stallone action films and that comes across in his line work. This feels epic and visceral. The result of this collaboration is a tightly written, richly colored book with some strong dynamic art.
In short, the kind of Superman book I’ve been waiting ages for.
The opening chapter on what promises to be a major turning point for Superman is named after the Ulysses Project, a failed experiment involving strange matter. As the installation was enveloped by deadly energy, two scientists faced a similar choice that Kal-El’s parents did on Krypton many years ago. Placing their infant son into a protective pod, they jettisoned him into another dimension for safety. 25 years later he has returned from that dimension to his home world, which he thought destroyed, to defend it from an alien invader. He and Superman team up, showing how similar they are in abilities as well as back story. But will Ulysses be a friend or foe to the Man of Steel? And who is the shadowy figure watching the action from afar? Subsequent issues will tell the tale.
Are you along for the ride? I am.