Title: Superman, Issue#1 (2016)
Author: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Mick Gray, Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC Comics
Genre: Action, Superhero
Release Date: June 15, 2016
After the alleged fall of this world’s Superman, pre-reboot Superman decides to take up the mantle in his place. Clark Kent, his wife Lois Lane, and their son Jon, have taken up residence in this world, and they have been living in secret, however, Jon does not seem to mind as he is so proud of his father being the world’s best superhero. Their half Kyrptonian son’s powers have started to manifest as well, which may make things difficult when keeping their presence a secret. Jon may also need to think about what he can do to prevent exposure, although it may be too late. Little Jon might also be in for a new adventure.
The story, while decently written, has a number of nice character moments with the “Smith” family, and setting up potential plot ideas, the story is rather short, and it leaves more to be desired as more details could have been put in. The story’s main players are Clark and his family living in the country, the story takes place sometime after Clark came out to the world as the new Superman, and reminds readers that the “Smiths” are still lying low, and Jon just received his powers. The essential “who, what, when, where, and why” are established. In terms of story, however, despite this being a 20 some page comic, it almost feels as if not much occurred thanks to the odd structure of the book. The pacing seems to be going too fast and some scenes are over extended across the several pages or under used thanks to the art. The only scene that was paced appropriately was the dinner scene, however, for the most part, it may seem as if the story and art are not in unison.
On the positives, interesting plot threads are indeed started, the first being that Jon may have exposed himself, which may lead to him either making a new friend or foe. The second plot thread is Clark meeting with the Justice League, which has rarely ever happened, and most of the previous times Clark kept his involvement hidden. Based on the brief dialogue of the conversation, either the league has a mission for the two or they wish to address the existence of Clark’s family, in particular, his son. These are all good moments and if the pacing was a little slower then more time would be devoted to these scenes and readers could have a bit more appreciation for what is going on.
On another note, when picking up a comic titled “Superman,” most readers would expect a story focused on Superman and his supporting cast, however, aside from the opening scene, most of the comic is focused on Jon.
Considering Lois and Jon are Clark’s family, it does make sense that they would also be in the comic as much as him, but when the title character is given less focus in the first, labeled issue of the series, it becomes a noticeable problem. With the amount of focus being given to Jon, it may as well be his story, but with Superman in it, and titled “Son of Superman” instead.
Clark does get some spotlight, such as when he is saving a baby cow from their burning barn, rebuilding their destroyed barn with his family , showing concern for Jon’s well being, and having dinner with his family , before sending Jon to his room. Some of these moments, while short, show Clark as a family man. These family moments, in particular, portray Clark as a father show how far Clark has come. It gives off the feeling that Clark is more than just Superman, but also a parent now and has more responsibilities with even more people to be concerned about. This detail might have been explored in another comic, which means this comic might need some extra reading. All of this would have been expounded upon if the story did not choose to focus on Jon instead of Clark.
Jon does have a few interesting moments, which might be part of his character arc for this series, the obvious gaining control over his powers, which seems to be a must for new superheroes, the fact that someone witnessed him using his powers, and the ever present problem of keeping his identity a secret.
Readers also witness a bit of how much Jon adores to the idea of his dad being Superman, as any child would, having a sense of pride and eager to work with him on anything. That admiration can also have a negative effect, since he holds both his parents to such high regard that he has a hard time coping with the idea that his parents are lying to people in order to keep their secret safe. This may just be Jon being under a bit of stress over the fact that he might have exposed his powers to someone, and it’s manifesting in the wrong way. The idea of them keeping a low profile and trying to have a normal life would have been called into question sooner or later.
One noticeable issue with comic is that it over utilizes splash pages and two page spreads, thus making a lot of the scenes over extended and giving off the impression that not much happened. While the comic looks great and well drawn, it highlights how little effort was put illustrating the story. A lot seems to be happening in the story, however, the art over extends things. For example, surely the scene where Jon is smiling as his father saves a baby cow from the fire did not deserve to take up a whole page, the same can be said about the opening scene. In addition, Clark unveiling his costume after visiting the grave of the previous Superman did not need a two page spread, especially when readers know what the costume looks like already. It would be greatly appreciated and would be more fruitful, if the art would show the scenes in more detail, rather than over expand them.
The inking, while only used in the beginning and end, came on a bit too strong and it did not help the mood of that scene and looked rather lazy as well, especially near the end. The inking made Clark and the Justice League look terrifying, which is probably not the best when portraying the heroes, unless they are Batman. The last page does have some good details and almost deserves a full splash page, with the comic books on the floor, Clark telling Jon to come with him, and it almost seems like a comic fan’s dream, but the inking hinders it by making Superman look scary, which ruins the moment.
The essential who, what, where, when, why, and how are established, which are necessary for a first issue. It’s decently written and interesting plot threads are started. The only thing holding this comic back is the structure of the comic, mostly with the art. It is hard to enjoy a comic when more of it is splash pages, two page spreads, and advertisements, in 20 pages.
Good story, but art needs to slow down
Art has a pacing problem
The comic offers interesting plot threads, which include the son of Superman controlling his powers, protecting his own identity, and possibly joining his father on a mission, but it is hard to enjoy when the writing and art are at odds. The writing is good, however, the artwork over extends scenes and it makes the story seem shorter than it actually is and, for a first issue, that is a detriment.
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