Title: Superman: Rebirth, Issue #1
Author: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 1, 2016
After the events of New 52 Superman’s supposed death, pre-New 52 Superman is doubtful he is gone. There may be a way to bring this world’s Man of Steel back. Upon paying his respects to the fallen Kryptonian’s memorial, Clark runs into this world’s Lana Lang, who is recovering the ashes of the fallen hero so she can bury him alongside his parents in Smallville. While Lana is confident that her friend is no more, pre-reboot Clark Kent remains hopeful. He tries to reassure her that he will return based on his own experience with death.
For the most part, this issue is more of an aftermath story where characters try to find closure or reassurance after a tragic loss. While it is admirable that Clark is trying to instill a sense of hope in Lana and to comfort her in her time of need, it feels rather weak and resolved quickly. It isn’t poorly done; however, it would have been more satisfying if the two continued to search for other ways to bring this world’s Superman back. It would have made even more of an impact if Lana talked about this world’s Superman more since Clark didn’t get to know him, instead of her asking him bring her to Smallville.
The comic does a decent job suggesting at the end that pre-new 52 Clark will become this world’s Superman. It uses the Death of Superman by Dan Jurgens as a crutch or an emotional kickstarter, but since the story has been retold and referenced throughout the years, the weight might not be as impactful. This is not necessarily a flaw as the story can still move people and ending with him paying tribute to the late Superman is a good way to start Clark on his new role in this world.
Throughout the issue, Lana was more concern with fulfilling her promise to Clark, but not much can be said about her character during this issue. It is clear that she is in a state of grief, however, it is very minimal as she masks it underneath her drive to fulfill a promise. She remains cynical toward the black suited Superman’s idea of this world’s Superman coming back.
The real stand out character in all of this is, of course, Clark due to the amount of respect he showed for this universe’s man of steel, despite not knowing this Superman and having a distaste for this world. Seeing how this world’s Superman honored both his Kryptonian and earth parents really struck a chord for Clark. It has the potential to resonate with the readers as well. Very few words are said by Clark in the scene where he sees the four statues of his parents, but his feelings of appreciation are felt just by expression on his face and building a fifth statue of the late Superman alongside them.
Some readers might find Superman’s sense of optimism and hope, which is a defining aspect of his character, to be somewhat naïve; however, Clark has a very good reason to believe that this Superman will return based on his own experiences.
If this is truly the end of this world’s Superman then it is befitting that Clark pay his respects to a fellow hero, even if it is someone he did not know and, on top of that, a parallel universe version of him. Whether fans loved or hated this universe’s Superman, it means a lot that Clark found a sense of appreciation and respect for him.
The art by Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza does well when recreating images from the Death of Superman and Reign of Supermen, also by Dan Jurgens, in particular Superman’s fight with Doomsday, his death, and revival. The art really does capture the essence of those old scenes. It even gives it a somewhat updated feeling while retaining the flavor of the original story. For example, the fight with Doomsday is made with greater detail, from every expression, bruise and vain on Superman’s face.
Not an exciting read but still a decent first issue for pre-new 52 Clark to start off as possibly this world’s Superman. After all, the world will always need Superman. Seeing him try to comfort Lana is indeed admirable, but it’s not used to its full potential. It is possible that bringing back this world’s Superman might be the focus of this series, but that has yet to be determined. The comic does a decent amount of set up, but nothing too groundbreaking.
The world will always need a Superman
The issue is a good aftermath issue preceding the events of the last issue of the Superman main book as it provides a sense of closure for Clark and Lana as they come to terms with the death of this world’s Superman. It is still nice to see Clark try to reassure Lana that this world’s man of steel will return and readers are treated to a flashback of Clark’s own experience with death and revival. This may not be the end of trying to bring New 52 Superman back, but it was resolved as quickly as it was brought up. Although, all of that can be forgiven as Clark shows a great deal of respect for the late Superman and wishes to pick up where he left off.
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