Superman #32 – Friday Flash Review

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Bane of Kings and Shadowhawk tackle the first issue of the newest creative team on DC’s troubled top-tier comic, Superman.

An excellent new start to what should be a great book from a stellar creative team.” ~Bane of Kings

“Finally a Superman story that I can read without reservations and really get interested in.” ~Shadowhawk

Bane of Kings:

The Superman title has been the consistently weakest of all books in the Superman line since the start of the New 52 but now with the addition of A-List creative talents in the form of Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr, the book has now with just one issue become an instant contender for the best Superman book on shelves already. And that’s an incredible achievement when you consider that the line is now in a very different place from the start of the New 52 with not a bad book amongst them, and with Scott Snyder’s Superman Unchained, Greg Pak’s Action Comics and Charles Soule’s Superman/Wonder Woman all excellent books right now it’s great to see such consistently good titles being put out month after month.

The book starts with the introduction of a new character, and is played out very well with the Men of Tomorrow arc, introducing Ulysses as a potential foe or ally for Superman. He thinks that he’s the last person from Planet Earth until he is proven otherwise and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens in the forthcoming chapters, with the character certainly posing an interesting new addition to the Superman line-up for sure and a welcome break from the Superman: Doomed crossover that is currently taking up both Action Comics and Superman/Wonder Woman.

Artistic wise, John Romita Jr. excels. I loved his pulpy feel on Marvel Now’s Captain America title and it’s great to see him handling a DC book – with some stellar portrayals of Superman that are really enhanced by the addition of Klaus Janson as inker and Laura Martin as colourist – the book’s artistic team works really well with the storyline and there are several amazing pages throughout that will keep the reader’s eyes fixed straight on the screen. One thing’s for sure it’s going to be interesting seeing what the artistic talent can bring to the table going forward, because the promise of this creative team is full of awesome potential.

Johns and Romita Jr. has been a pairing that has received a lot of hype lately and I’m glad to say that it has not disappointed. The book looks and reads spectacularly well and whilst the plot may not be the most complex narrative ever it certainly presents an interesting question that should have the reader coming back for more. Where do we go from here? What happens now? One thing that this book presents is an idea of Clark’s return to the Daily Planet – and whilst it was great to see him operate as a blogger it should be interesting to see what happens going forward.

The book itself is pretty much setting the pieces together for something to come. The first chapter of Men of Tomorrow lays the groundwork for Johns and Romita Jr.’s new run and presents an interesting new status quo for the Man of Steel. It doesn’t appear to be affected by the current continuity in Superman: Doomed just yet – and how that event will affect the rest of the Superman line still remains to be seen.

With a character-centric focus, the book really shows that Johns gets Clark as a character – pulling off a strong take on the Man of Steel. It shows that he’s the right writer to carry the book going forward and it’ll certainly lead to greater things in the future. Right now though Superman #32 is a confident start by the new creative team – and whilst there’s nothing necessarily new here it still should be considered a must buy and is a great addition to the current Superman line-up.

Rating: 8/10

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John Romita Jr. is one of those artists who have never disappointed in any way, whenever I’ve looked at their work. And for this reason he is one of my favourite artists currently in the industry. So when I heard that Geoff Johns and JRJ were going to be getting in on some Superman action this month and that they would be the new creative team coming in to the title, I was pretty ecstatic. I mean, I’m already a huge fan of Geoff thanks to his Green Lantern and Aquaman and Justice League of America and Justice League among other works, and now he was going to be taking on Superman, which has been one of DC’s most problematic books since the launch of the New 52. First it was writer issues, and then art issues for the title’s first year. Then Scott Lobdell came on for one of the most incoherent story arcs and crossovers I’ve read to date, introducing a really messed up character in the bargain. And then I stopped reading, which proved to be a good choice since the title appeared to fluctuate in team replacement hell as creators came and went.

But now, there was a ray of sunshine in the midst of all this since Geoff Johns and JRJ are two of the best in the industry and if anyone could turn around Superman, it would be the two of them.

Superman #32 starts on a very interesting note. In our world, in a high-tech research facility, something goes horribly wrong and a husband-wife team of scientists send their son through to another dimension to keep him safe from the impending destruction of the world. And then we switch to the present day as Superman does what he does best, as both Superman and as Clark Kent, fighting monsters and keeping Metropolis safe from monsters and villains of all kinds, such as Titano the Mech-Ape.

The opening of the issue certainly confused me, as I wasn’t really sure what I was reading. But once Geoff Johns got into the groove, he really got into the groove all the way and he just ran on with the story to finish on a really good high. Best of all is that while this is Geoff’s only first issue on the series, it already feels like he is been around since the beginning, almost three years back. His Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are written almost effortlessly and I loved their portrayal. I’m a bit sad in that Lois Lane didn’t make an appearance here but I am holding out hope on that front since a Superman book is nothing without Lois Lane, she is far too integral a character!

Ultimately, what matters is that in a single issue Geoff Johns undoes almost three years of mediocrity and he makes Superman a series to start following once again. I mean, I really didn’t need to add another book to my monthly pull-list but this title was far too good on that front and I really liked what he did here.

Joining JRJ on the art team here is Klaus Janson for inks, Laura Martin for colours and Sal Cipriano for the letters. As I said, JRJ is one of the best artists in the industry and his work in this proves that quite admirably. Best of all are his streak shots for Superman, for when he is moving at really high speeds. But more than that, his characters are very expressive and their body postures quite genuine for what they are doing at the time. Combined with that is the fact that Janson’s inks and Martin’s colours are also superb and what you have here is one of the finest creative teams in the industry.

A fantastic start that I hope continues on for a good long while!

Rating: 9.5/10

Shadowhawk is a regular contributor to TFF. A resident of Dubai, Shadowhawk reads, reads and reads. His opinions are always clear and concise. His articles always worth reading.