Superman #45 Review
Superman #45, by Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi, and Stephen Downer in their final issue on the book, sees the Kent family cleaning out their old house in Hamilton. What could possibly go wrong there?
Actually, not very much. The crux of the issue is change and growth. Jon is still reticent about leaving Hamilton. For him, it’s the only home he’s ever known and, for a kid, moving away from a place like that is hard. Luckily, he has Clark Kent and his homespun wisdom to help him through it. Lois acts all tough, like she always does, but even she is sad to leave the home where the Kents really became a family. Clark is the eternal optimist, trying to cheer everyone up and help them through it. The movers never show, but the Kents get unexpected help from a friend to move their stuff to Metropolis in a flash. That night, they go to the Hamilton county fair, where they catch up with old friends. Superman and Superboy are called away, but it all ends with the family back home in Metropolis, together,
This story is a quiet, poignant tale about family, friends, and growing up. Those things have been a hallmark of the Tomasi and Gleason run and this, their final issue of Superman, captures that feeling. The Kents are there for each other as they deal with leaving Hamilton in their own way. Friends help make thing easier on the family. Jon learns important lessons about life, becoming a better person. All of these themes have run throughout this series and this final part of the run does a wonderful job of driving them home.
This isn’t a slam-bang, huge adventure issue. Sure, there’s a monster attack in it, but the reader never sees any of the action from it. It’s a story of the Kent family and their final day in the town where that family became what they are. It’s the kind of story that was really never possible in the old days. Sure, there were Lois and Clark stories, but not like the ones readers have been getting since Rebirth. Readers have never seen Lois and Clark in the way they’ve gotten to them in the last two years, and this issue has a perfect example of that. Lois takes the old mailbox from the Hamilton house, as a reminder of the time the Kent family spent there. While the Kent men are out of the house, planting the plant Swamp Thing gave Clark back in the Superman Annual (which Clark uses as an object lesson about change to Jon), she gets all choked up. This isn’t a Lois that readers have ever seen before and it’s wonderful and, most importantly, real. That’s been the best thing about Tomasi and Gleason’s run. It’s taken two characters that readers have known for 80 years and showed them in ways that they’ve never been seen before. Lois has always been emotional, but not like this. The Lois readers have known has been the fiery reporter, not the caring mother leaving the place her first child grew up. The Clark readers have known has always helped people, but has never had such a personal stake in it. Tomasi and Gleason (and Jurgens over on Action Comics) have made the Kent family into something wonderful and real, and have made the Superman titles the most readable they’ve been in ages.
Gleason’s art is wonderful throughout. He’s been turning in some of the best art of his career the last few issues he’s pencilled. In the past, his levels of detail have slipped or his faces have gotten weird, but that doesn’t happen at all in this issue. He captures the emotions the Kents are feeling perfectly. The statues of Superman and Superboy are great looking and the sole glimpse of the monster attack is pretty cool. Gleason gets top billing for the issue, doing the art, scripting and helping Tomasi with the plot and he deserves it. Gleason will be moving onto Action Comics, which is welcome news for fans of his take on the Kent family.
Tomasi and Gleason end their Superman run in a perfect fashion. Sure, there’s no huge fights. There’s no big sci-fi stuff. Manchester Black doesn’t come back to menace the Kent family. Bizarro doesn’t try to attack Hamilton and destroy the son he loves so much. It’s just about the Kent family and their friends, and it’s a great issue. It’s simple and elegant, a beautiful little story about a family moving on with their lives. Between this and Action Comics #1000, this week has been an embarrassment of riches for the Superman titles.