Review: Superman #1 (Perez & Merino)
The book opens with the demolition of the old Daily Planet and the opening of the new. Perez tells the reader that it is not the "building" itself that is the Daily Planet - but everything within. That it is only the building that has fallen, not the Paper. Obviously, this is a metaphor for the DC Relaunch; that what makes up DC Comics is all the people involved, and while the outside might look different, what counts - the inside - is still the same.
And I have to agree.
With the DCnU, Superman is, once again, where he deserves to be - at the top of the charts. The iconic character is known throughout the world as a symbol of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Superman is easily the most recognizable super hero, and at the same time, the most inspiring. So with the reboot, do we get that same Superman? The Superman millions look up to, the Superman as a vessel of hope, the Superman who, as he comes to save the day, relieves all fear?
Not today, we don't!
Superman #1 sees a Man Of Steel who is not looked upon as a savior, but one that comes with more than a bit of caution. This is a camera shy Man of Steel, one that must prove himself while being accused at every turn, and yet at the same time, is welcomed with open arms at the first sign of a danger too large to handle. This is a Superman that comes with contradiction and blame; the alien that helps the people is feared by the people. There is a hesitancy at accepting the Last Son Of Krypton as the hero of Metropolis.
The issue was told from two contrasting perspectives written concurrently, setting up things to come. On one hand, Perez uses the new Daily Planet's cast of characters to fill in the gaps and give overall impressions for Big Blue and the City Of Tomorrow. On the other, Clark Kent's exclusive interview with Superman on the events that the Daily Planet covered within the issue, offer a different take. While the Daily Planet reporting tends to be on the more dramatic, more gossipy and emotional nature, Clark's account goes to the heart of the matter, reporting fact as he knows the truth to be.
As we see in the issue, the Daily Planet has been purchased by its rival The Globe, a newspaper that comes with more than its share of questionable tactics and reputation. Clark and Lois argue over whether this is a good thing, as Clark feels it will be at the cost of their integrity, while Lois argues the Planet needs this as publishing is now in the digital age. Lois, having received a huge promotion, also seems as if to be caught up in the limelight, causing her to be more accepting of the change. The story then branches off into the two directions mentioned above: Lois and the Planet reporting on how they perceive the events unfolding, and Clark/Superman as he knows them to be. This dual nature is ever present throughout the book, from the aforementioned old and new Daily Planet, to the human and alien perceptions, to what is thought to be and what is the actual truth.
As Superman performs his super duties fending off a Fire Monster (from Krypton?!), Perez sprinkles in all those familiar phrases fans of old are accustomed to. This is most welcome as it is a reminder of where Superman came from, and that all is not changed (again reference the Daily Planet), but that we are in for something new. As Mr. Perez shows us with this issue, that is not a bad thing at all. And, as this is not the Superman from yesterday, do not expect the happy ending (which was conveniently revealed by DC months ago).
The art, done by Perez as well as Jesus Merino, I actually expected to be better. I thought Perry White was Superman at first (or Earth-2 Superman), and questioned why he looked older, but then realized my(?) mistake. Likewise, Clark had some funky hair cut resembling a wig, with one panel even resembling a mowhawk. And those Harry Potter goggles need to go! We saw them first in Morrison's Action Comics; however, this being five years in the future, I think Clark would have purchased a new set. All in all I was happy with the art, but it didn't knock my socks off as I expected.
A quick mention must be made about the Superman reference in Stormwatch #1 - that we were to look here for more. As it was only one page, I thought it to be inserted just for the sake of promotion, as it read as if having to do nothing with the story told by Perez. Also, I don't think it served its purpose to get readers excited about reading Stormwatch - if that was the intent. There should have been more involved, or simply it should have just been cut out.
This issue is heavily character driven compared to its sister title, Action Comics, more akin to a soap opera I would say. Perez and Merino are giving us the world of Superman - one comprised of all the struggle, turmoil, and conflict that comes with living and existing, but with the addition of super powers.