Superman #1 // Review
Superman #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Alex Sinclair, and Josh Reed, is the beginning of the new status quo that Bendis has for Superman. The Man Of Steel was a good beginning for Bendis’ Superman run, laying out a plethora of rich plot seeds. Will those seeds grow to successfully into fruition or rot in the fields? Can he fill the rather large shoes of the departing Rebirth writers?
Superman, having lost the communicator Jor-El gave him to communicate with his family on their galactic sightseeing trip, begins to search space for them and runs into a Dominator fleet. Afterwards, he returns to Earth and picks a new location for the Fortress of Solitude, in the Bermuda Triangle. Later, Martian Manhunter comes to him and tells him that the world needs his leadership and he should take humanity into the greater universe and make them a part of the galactic community. This doesn’t sit well with Superman, and he ends the conversation. Flying off, he makes a startling discovery.
There’s a lot to like about this issue. Superman’s confrontation with the Dominator fleet makes him realize that, as much as he’d like to go and look for his family, the Earth needs him. After moving the Fortress, he begins to write an article about it, but realizes that there is real news to report and this story is just stroking his ego. During his conversation with Martian Manhunter, he continually stops J’onn to go off and deal with crises elsewhere. Bendis continues to prove that he understands Superman and how to write him. Each of these moments show who the character is and his place in the world. A lot of writers come on Superman and try to establish a new order, but it feels like Bendis is trying to make sure and show readers that he gets who Superman is, what he does, and what makes him tick. He’s actively trying to assuage the doubts that a lot of fans brought up about his take over of the books and it’s a nice gesture.
He also includes little flashbacks vignettes of Superman in moments with his family to show that, beyond all the super feat of derring do, there’s a man under it all; one who may be bulletproof, but can still feel. Again, this is par for the course, but it’s to an extent that hasn’t really been seen before. A lot has been said about Bendis’ decision to take Lois and Jon off the table, but it’s really a way to explore an aspect of Superman readers don’t really get to see very much, Superman dealing with loss. On the surface, it seems like the character would be all about loss, but for the most part, his connection to Krypton has always been a genetic one. He lost his world and family, but he also gained one. Even though Ma and Pa Kent are currently dead in DC continuity, it’s not something that’s been dealt with. Since Rebirth, readers have gotten used to the Kent family being around, and now Superman has to deal with them not being there. It presents a whole new facet to the character and gives him an emotional turmoil he hasn’t had in a long time.
The exchange with Martian Manhunter is a little unsettling, and at first seems to be a classic example of Bendis mischaracterization, but at second glance, it’s easy to figure out that whoever it is, it isn’t J’onn.. Is it the being behind the big reveal at the end of the issue? Is it someone readers have seen before or is this one of the new villains Bendis has promised readers?
Ivan Reis’ art is gorgeous. The highpoints are the multiple splash pages throughout. He captures the terrifying majesty of the Dominator fleet and Superman’s destruction of it. When Superman is talking to J’onn and going away to solve a problem, Reis’ pencils make each moment pop off the page, perfect snapshots of the Man of Steel in action. And the big last page reveal is a wonderfully detailed, enticing readers with the promise of what’s to come.
All in all, this is a near-perfect first issue of Superman. Bendis shows readers the heart of Superman and gives them a lot of cool Superman-being-Superman moments. There’s enough intriguing things going on to keep readers invested in the book, and the reveal at the end looks like it could lead into something quite entertaining. All that said, Bendis didn’t exactly stick the landing with The Man Of Steel; there’s definitely a question of whether he can make all of this work all the way to end. However, this is a great comic and a snapshot of who Superman is right now. It serves as a great jumping on point for new readers and should work to assuage a lot of the doubts long time readers might have about Bendis on Superman. It’s worth buying just for the Ivan Reis’ gorgeous art alone. The great story and character work within are icing on the cake.