100-Page Comic Giant! Superman #1 // Review
Recently, DC rocked the comic book world by announcing that their 100-Page Giant Comics would be returning to the newsstands with Superman, Teen Titans, Batman, and the Justice League all getting their own books. Seemingly intent on finding a new market for their comics, DC struck an exclusive deal with Walmart to carry these titles with a $4.99 cover price. To make a strange announcement even more bizarre, DC even said that some of their top talent would be creating stories original to these books with characters they’ve not worked on before. Of course, they would only be collected in those books for now. Needless to say, some in the comic world began to slightly panic, and some local comics shops in New York even began to plan best how to raid Walmarts to bring those comics under their roofs.
But were they worth the hype?
DC’s 100-Page Comics Giant! Superman #1 is an interesting experiment, to say the least. It is, however, a little misleading. While Superman does star in two of the four comics headlining the comic, he shares the headline with Batman for one of them. Green Lantern and the Terrifics take the other two comic slots for this issue, creating some… interesting problems. But first, the much-hyped original story.
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Tom Derenick, Trevor Scott, and Stephen Downer, Endurance begins a two-part story. Clark Kent is assigned to visit Tornado Alley in the midwest of America, with the idea to write an article on the aftermath of the trauma and destruction caused by recent tornadoes. Unfortunately, Superman turns out to be handier to Clark when the town he’s visiting is struck by a tornado.
Palmiotti is an old hand at DC in general, having written for them since the mid-90s. However, Superman has never been a character he’s focused on in his career, instead spending most of his recent time with Harley Quinn and Jonah Hex. However, he downright nails Clark Kent perfectly for the tone this story needs. There’s a real nice touch where the drone of a tornado brings back traumatic memories of when Krypton was destroyed, an idea no other writer has really touched before, and it’s done quite tastefully. The art is also quite good, being lovingly crafted and highly detailed. This makes this comic feel like some of the better days of Superman before the whole Nu52 reboot DC went through. Body language is excellent, and the choreography for Superman’s rescue efforts is easy to follow.
With a pretty solid opening story, the editors of the collection decided to follow it up with the first issue of 2003’s Superman/Batman, part one of a tale called The World's Finest. This issue was written by Jeph Loeb, with art by Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, and Dave Stewart. It’s actually a fantastic choice to have for a collection like this, featuring Superman and Batman teaming up to fight Metallo. The story has aged incredibly well for being fifteen years old, though people picking this up with little comic experience may be thrown by Lex Luthor being President of the United States.
What follows is the first issue of Geoff Johns’ legendary run on Green Lantern, titled Airborne. Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver, and Jesus Merino all joined Johns for the art on the book, while Moose Baumann provided the colors. While this is yet another great choice for a comic collection, it feels questionable to include it with Superman. While Green Lantern’s adventures did once get relegated to a backup story in Action Comics Weekly, Superman doesn’t make an appearance in the story at all. Further, since the collection feels aimed at a family-friendly audience, an interlude with an arguing couple being exploded into puddles of gore comes completely out of left field and with no warning to well-meaning parents.
The final comic of this collection, The Terrifics issue #1, has already been covered before by this website (insert hyperlink here, dummy). Titled Meet The Terrifics, Jeff Lemire provides the words and Ivan Reis did pencils, while Joe Prado and Marcelo Maiolo provide the inks and colors. Simply put, the comic is a wonderful package with a great hook. While it is a great idea to push recent comics like this, and it could help introduce people to the most recently published issues of DC Comics, the tonal shift from the intent of the collection really makes it feel like someone at Editing just wanted to shoehorn in a recent comic try and bring new readers to what could be an under performing title, or at least a lesser-known one.
In all, this was a great experience for $4.99. With modern single-issue releases from Marvel and DC being literally around this price point anyhow, it’s really hard to argue how you don’t get the most mileage for your dollar out of three reprinted issues of fantastic comics content, and twelve entirely new pages of material made just for the issue. In that sense, it’s a fantastic collection - and one that is a great idea to rival Marvel’s recent bi monthly digests published by Archie Comics. However, there is but one weakness.
DC has 80 years of material they could be republishing at this point for Superman, stretching back to 1938. While diversifying the content included in the book to make it more likely for someone to purchase the comic makes sense, this is a book allegedly all about Superman. DC could reach into some famous runs, introducing younger readers to the talents of Louise Simonson, John Byrne, or even Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster themselves. Compared to Marvel’s formula of reprinting mostly from the Silver and Bronze age, with more recent comics being family-friendly fare to round out books, it comes off like DC had a hard time figuring out what they wanted out of a 100-Page Giant comic once more.
It’s still a great book, but the inclusion of Green Lantern #1 makes the comic unfriendly to families, and The Terrifics just feels like the wrong tonal shift despite being a great comic. However, the value makes it fantastic for almost everyone.