Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Superman in the New 52

I finished up reading the initial arcs for the revamped Superman (and, everyone else in the DC Universe - see "New 52") in Action Comics and Superman.

Superman meets the new Brainiac, Action Comics #8.
I wasn't all that taken with the Superman opening story.  It was tied to the Action Comics tale, but I didn't feel a strong connection.  There was just something about the tone and timbre of Action Comics that I preferred.  It probably didn't hurt that they had Grant Morrison writing the opening story of the Action Comics revamp.

The Action Comics story involves Superman as a newly emerging superhero, trying to find his footing. He is very much a crusader for the little people, his cause augmented by liberal, investigative reporter Clark Kent.  Superman begins on the wrong side of the law, but with the arrival of a dangerous alien entity, Brainiac, people learn to value Superman's presence.

I liked this story, mostly.  Superman is edgier without being ridiculously "dark" or anything.  His adoptive parents, the Kents, have already passed away when this story starts.  With various previous incarnations and variations being brought into line, Superman starts out here only able to make fantastic leaps.  But, even as this story progresses, he gets stronger.  To reach Brainiac in space, he must make the biggest leap than he ever has before, complete with oxygen mask.  This increase in abilities and power aligns with the previous concept of the older, gray-at-the-temples Superman, who eventually gains so much power from the sun over the course of his life that even Kryptonite stops affecting him.  Here he starts out the story in a t-shirt with a cape, but by the end, he has acquired Kryptonian armor that further enhances his invulnerability. (and thus, gives him the new, high collar look.)

Lex Luthor is a business man, again, but also a military advisor.  He also has contact with Brainiac and considers Superman nothing more than an invasive species to be eradicated.  Lois Lane is a friend. (In the Superman line, it is shown that Clark is pining for her, but not so much here, yet.)  A few other seeds are planted along the way.  e.g.; John Corben is introduced not as a thug, but as a soldier who fuses with Brainiac (he will later become Metallo.)

On the negative side, I didn't like the side story of the origin of the hero, Steel, being included here.  If I'm paying $3.99 for Superman, padding out the issue with a sidetrack is not giving me what I paid for.

Also, DC nearly lost me by throwing in a time-travel story in the middle of the arc!  Maybe they were trying to cross-promote for Legion of Superheroes.  But it seems to me that if you went through all the trouble to reintroduce and restart all these comic lines, why muddy the waters assuming I understand some of what is happening, when I don't even read Legion of Superheroes?   I think they would have been better served telling a straightforward story, mostly from point A to point B.  Leave the time-travel convolution for later.

It appears that the next Superman arc already involves magic villainy, and I'm just not that interested in that right now.  It feels to me that they should stick to the "scifi" aspect of Superman for a while longer before tossing in magic.

As a matter of personal choice, even if I stick with Action Comics, I'll probably drop the individual issues and transition to digital (hopefully bundles) or trade paperback collections.  It will mean being six months behind and potentially missing a story if it isn't collected, but I'm not that heavily into comic issue collecting.  I just didn't get my start that way.  I prefer the encapsulated stories, ease of pulling off the shelf for a re-read, and less space (once you add bags and cardboard to the individual issues) of trade paperback collections.

(There are exceptions - some series I am continuing to follow issue to issue and I hope to discuss them in a near-future post.)


  1. I haven't tried to keep up with the latest DC reboot. The whole idea of starting storylines over again is tiring. I'll probably check some of them out later this summer, though.

  2. Keith, I've been thinking about that myself. I wonder if instead of a reboot (with alterations to some heroes' backgrounds & character) DC had done a restart, if it might have been a better move.

    Like the difference between Scifi's Battlestar Galactica (reboot) and the new (2005) Doctor Who, where the Doctor restarted, but all the history wasn't removed - but it also doesn't have too much direct bearing on the current show, other than recurring species of monsters from his past. Or, when a new actor becomes James Bond, we get a new set of circumstances, but Bond is Bond.