PopCultHQ had the opportunity to look at SUPERMAN (2018) #1 from DC Comics. Available July 11th, 2018, the creative team for this series features writing from Brian Michael Bendis, pencils from Joe Prado, inks by Ivan Reis, colors by Alex Sinclair, and lettering from Josh Reed.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s review of…
SUPERMAN (2018) #1
Pencils: Joe Prado
Inks: Ivan Reis
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Josh Reed
A bold new chapter for the greatest superhero of all time begins here as the superstar team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis begin their run on the all-new SUPERMAN! The fallout from the Man of Steel miniseries has Clark Kent looking at the world through new eyes… with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth. His first job? Getting the planet back out of the Phantom Zone!
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Superman. There is no other character who can come close to being as iconic. Perhaps Batman and Spider-Man could have a shot but seriously, Superman is an entity all his own. Coming off the heels of his 80th Anniversary Celebration with Action Comics #1000 and a new weekly 6-part miniseries entitled Man of Steel, which led directly into this first week’s Superman v.5 #1. There is no doubt why this character is so iconic. This book has to be the most anticipated book of the year since DC Comics had acknowledged that Brian Micheal Bendis had jumped ship at Marvel Comics and come over onto the DC Comics side of life. Bendis being on Superman has been a big deal in making; from his Man of Steel miniseries to his debut on Superman and his taking over Action Comics with issue #1001, everyone has been tight-lipped about what he has in mind.
Brian Michael Bendis had made his start at Marvel Comics in 2000 with Ultimate Spider-Man. The series was a quick, overnight success, so much in fact that the lines had been blurred between Ultimate Spider-Man and the then-start of Sony’s first attempt at a Spider-Man movie franchise. Bendis went on to flesh out and write the Ultimate Marvel Universe, with such titles as Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Origins, Ultimate Six, the first three issues of Ultimate Power, and the Ultimate Comics: Doomsday metaseries. Bendis even went on to create Miles Morales, who went on to replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis continued to write every issue of Ultimate Spider-Man in its current form, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man until it’s end in 2016 with Marvel’s Secrets Wars. Bendis then went on to work outside of the Ultimate Universe and helmed such titles as New Avengers, Daredevil, House of M, Secret War, Mighty Avengers, and even created Jessica Jones. Needless to say, his resumé is extensive and just about exclusively to Marvel…until summer of 2018!
Coming off the heels of Man of Steel, a series that did not light the comic world on fire as was expected, Bendis gives us a new villain in Rogol Zaar. This being is revealed to be behind the destruction of Krypton, amd he has come to Earth to destroy all things Kryptonian including Superman and his cousin, Supergirl. Their battle destroyed not only the fabled Bottle City of Kandor, but also destroyed the Fortress of Solitude. However, Bendis doesn’t stop there! As established earlier in the Superman books this year, Superman’s biological father, Jor-El is still alive. Jor-El has offered to take Superman’s son, Jon on a trip across the galaxy to help his grandson find his way as a man. Lois Lane Kent volunteers to also be a chaperone on this cross-galaxy mystery tour. However, during the final battle with Rogol Zaar, the only means of communication with his family was destroyed.
This has completely left Bendis open to revamp Superman as he sees fit. It’s interesting, Superman is still married, yet given the details currently Bendis doesn’t have to deal with it directly. As if perhaps he learned a thing or two over at Marvel on how to handle iconic marriages you may disagree with.
We are given a Superman who is in mourning. We pick up with Superman trying to find his family but realizing that space is indeed a huge place! We see a nice fight between Superman and the Dominators as he heads off on a would-be invasion of Earth before it even has begun. We see Superman mourn his family, coming to the revelation that no matter what, Lois has this. The shots of Clark alone in his bed, remembering recent memories of Lois and then again in his kitchen alone, remebering his son Jon, are gut-wrenching. We also see Superman with the Justice League at the remains of the Fortress of Solitude. Which Bendis proves that what he can taketh away, he can also giveth back.
Superman takes the main Sunstone Crystal, which erected the Fortress in the first place, and places it in the center of…wait for it…none other than the Bermuda Triangle!
As Clark Kent reflects on his life’s new direction, he is visited by Martian Manhunter who calls out Superman. The two discuss how they are very similar. He has come to tell Superman that he knows his pain and feels it and he is not to consider himself alone in this new direction in his life. During this meeting, Superman excuses himself 3 times. First to tackle a monster across the globe, another time to save a family from a burning building, and finally to defeat what looks like Gorilla Grodd in space on the Moon. He returned to speak with Martian Manhunter between all these events. This is a bit of grandstanding for Big Blue but also grandstanding written in a manner where Superman doesn’t come across as grandstanding on purpose. It is Bendis showing us why Superman is super in the first place. However, Martian Manhunter has an off-the-wall idea from left field.
J’onn has the foresight to see that mankind will soon become part of the Galactic Conversation soon enough. Earth will officially be off to the stars in the next generation or two with all the alien contact they have made and J’onn feels Superman should be the one to lead Earth there. To tell us that everything we have built with greed, money, and wars is garbage. J’onn uses the words “Take over the world and set them on the path.” He uses the word ‘take’ which even catches Superman’s attention. Superman leaves Martian Manhuter after being told to sit on the idea and think about it. Something which shows me we may not be dealing with the real Martian Manhunter or if not, Bendis has proved his first DC character he doesn’t truly understand.
Superman reflects on some of the harsh words his father, Jor-El has spoken to him in recent months past. How he doesn’t approve of how he raises Jon. How he sees his son raising his grandson to put out fires in his baby clothes, something he also sees his own son, Kal-El/Superman as being no better as. This from the past almost crushes Superman as we see how it affects him. Bringing us to our cliffhanger as Superman realizes that Earth…is in the Phantom Zone! How did it get there? Well, that’s what cliffhangers do.
Ivan Reis is no stranger to the DC Universe. His art credits span some serious work throughout DC history. He’s done some work for Marvel in such titles as Avengers and Captain Marvel. He truly comes from an independent world of books with some Lady Death fame under his belt. The thing I really like about Ivan’s work is his shading always brings out a character’s facial expressions. His close up images of characters look amazing. He completely understand crosshatching mixed with some positive/ negative work to bring out cheek bones and contour lines of the human facial expression. In a book such as Superman, I can see where this adds to the overall effect.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
I’m really bored. I mean it’s Superman volume 5, issue 1. How many times are big names going to try to reinvent the wheel? John Byrne is most well-known for his 1986 Superman revamp with his own 6-issue Man of Steel miniseries and a relaunch of the Superman book with issue 1. Just like Bendis, Byrne also write Superman and Action Comics and plotted/oversaw the writing chores of the then-3rd Superman book, Adventures of Superman. I can’t help but feel Bendis wants to be the modern John Byrne on Superman. He even made his intro the miniseries Man of Steel and he writes both Superman titles, Superman and Action Comics. Granted, he hasn’t wiped or ignored what has come before. He’s utilizing the recently reintroduced Jor-El (something I would have written off and forgotten as a new writer) but also as a MacGuffin to get rid of Lois and Jon. I feel if he could have gotten away with undoing their marriage and child, he just might have.
I am a fan of Lois of Clark and when DC brought them back with their son from the Pre-New 52 Universe, I was exstatic! I don’t like that it was taken away. I’m hoping that the desire and detail he has put into Superman wanting to contact and find his family is evidence that they will be back. At least, I hope they will be back.
I was never a huge fan of Bendis and his work. I read Ultimate Spider-Man from day one just as everyone else, but by issue 32 I started noticing what only a few have noticed over the years and it became more obvious all the way up to the final issue. He was simply taking classic Amazing Spider-Man stories and reworking them for the modern day. This was really evident when he re-worked the classic Lee/Ditko story “Just a Guy Named Joe” into issue 32 of Ultimate Spider-Man. I have half a mind we’ll see the same reiterated for modern times on past Superman stories.
Just once I want someone on a Superman book who doesn’t want to try and outdo John Byrne. If he doesn’t, then why all these drastic changes that seem at the core so superfluous at best? Time will only tell with this book and the whole world will be watching!
2.5 out of 5 Stars
While other sites and reviewers are praising this book, I can’t…I simply can’t see where that praise is coming from. It’s nothing special. It’s literally a first issue that is used as an epiloge to his weekly six issue mini-series. The only thing which sets it up as a new story is the final page. Oh, Earth is in the Phantom Zone. Well, how did it get here? I feel an “oops” coming on. It didn’t grab me. As a matter of fact I rated it 3.0 Stars and as I wrote this, I went and altered my rating. The issue as a whole is not worth cover price of it! I can only hope issue 2 is more exciting.
SUPERMAN #1 can be purchased on ComiXology and available
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, July 11th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Brian Michael Bendis
Letterer – Josh Reed
Publisher – DC Comics