Review: Superman Rebirth #1

SupermanRebirth-1Publisher:  DC Comics
Writer:  Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artists:  Doug Mahnke
Release Date: 
June 1, 2016
Cover Price: $2.99
Review:
 
digital copy from Comixology

I think this is the fifth or sixth major reboot of Superman since I’ve been reading comics. He’s the classic case of when he’s new and different, people want him to be the old ‘classic’ Superman, and when he’s the old classic Superman, he’s too boring and unrelatable. Let’s see if this comic excites with the deaths of two Supermen.

Synopsis

  • The DCU Superman1.i.e., the pre-Flashpoint Superman is visiting the grave/memorial of the DC52 Superman2.who was killed at the end of the Darkseid War in the Justice League comic book, when he realizes that someone is in the underground access tunnels. It turns out to be Lana Lang.
  • Lana wants to take the DC52 Superman’s body back to Smallville, and the DCU Superman tells her his story of how he died and was reborn.
  • Superman and Lana go to the DC52 Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, where they learn that there is no Kryptonian regeneration matrix that can revive the dead Superman.
  • Lana buries Clark in Smallville, and the DCU Superman carves a statue of the DC52 Superman in the Fortress to commemorate his memory and sacrifice.

Analysis

I’m coming into Superman: Rebirth as a DC Universe fan, but just a casual fan of Superman. I’m certainly more of a fan of the pre-Flashpoint Superman than the DC52 version of the character, so I was very interested with how much story they would pull in. The creative team really struck the right balance of who this Superman is and what the current status of the universe is. All this despite it being a rather quiet episode, where not much actually happens.

One of the best things about the book is the familiarity of everything: from the older goatee Superman, to the red-haired woman I was immediately able to tag as Lana Lang, to the design of the Fortress of Solitude. Credit to not only Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, but also artist Doug Mahnke.

The overall story works very well. As a reader who has not followed Superman, I am able to pick up on the status-quo of the Rebirth Universe pretty quickly, as well as who Lana Lang is3.I know who Lana is, but it’s good to know how she works as a character. The art is crisp and clean and really works well for Superman.

What doesn’t work? Well, the book relies in a lot of telling rather than doing. Admittedly that ‘telling’ is told in flashbacks where things actually happened, but the actual plot is pretty much, Superman and Lana talk at the grave, then Superman and Lana talk at the Fortress of Solitude, and finally Superman and Lana talk at the graveyard in Smallville. Yes, it’s a small intimate book, with only two characters, but Lana has no purpose here other than talking about Clark Kent4.Failing the Bechdel test with flying colors!. I didn’t really like the deus ex machina plot device where Lana just “knows” where the Fortress of Solitude is, without any payoff whatsoever.

All that said, this quiet story does work very well. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Series Buy-In

DC isn’t rebirthing their universe just so Geoff Johns can sleep better at night. The purpose of this effort is to get fans to read DC Comics that they gave up on. With that in mind, would I read Superman going forward, based on Superman: Rebirth?

Well, I’m not enough of a Superman fan to do that based on one comic. But, I’m intrigued. I really liked how Tomasi and Gleason wrote Superman here, and the art is very good. I think I will keep an eye on the comic, and probably look at getting a trade paperback of the series5.That being said, I probably will buy Superman #1 to review on the website, but that’s separate.

 

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