Greetings and salutations, comics fans! I’m back with another week’s pick of the best in comics. and we’ll begin with …
DC’s Rebirth event has wildly exceeded comics fans’ expectations. The line-wide re-reboot of the dark and miserable New 52 has met with great approval. An important part of this rebirth is the return of the Pre-Flashpoint Superman. As DC readers already know, the New 52 Superman was killed in a fight with Doomsday, and not having a regeneration matrix like the Pre-Flashpoint Superman did to bring him back to life means that the New 52 version is well and truly dead. Or as dead as a constantly changing comic book landscape will let you be.
Enter PF Superman, who, after Convergence has been living secretly on New 52 Earth with Lois, and their son Jonathan. The Kents live out in the country, have adopted the name Smith, and are quietly living their lives in this strange new world. Clark plays hero on this world discreetly, letting this world’s Superman and the Justice League handle the brunt of the hero biz. But New 52 Supes is dead, and this dark world needs a force for hope …
Superman‘s inaugural Rebirth story arc kicked off with an epic battle with the Eradicator, as the classic villain showed up with a belly full of Kryptonian souls, intending on adding Clark to the mix, and killing son Jonathan, whose human DNA taints the House of El. After an epic battle on, and under, the moon, with Lois … well, I’ll let you read that for yourself. Anyhoo, after six action-packed issues, our heroes emerge victorious, Earth’s new Superman stands revealed, and the world looks a little brighter because of it. And to top it off, Superman manages to save his beloved friend Krypto from the Eradicator’s system, leaving the villain completely drained. With its last word, the Eradicator states the future of the House of El is doomed, only for the Man of Steel to assure that the future of the House of El belongs to his son. Issue #7, is the aftermath of sorts, as the Smith family decide to become part of their community with a night at the county fair.
Over the summer, since Rebirth started, we’ve seen both Superman titles, Superman and Action Comics, demonstrate a theme of an old fashioned Superman for a brand new world. So far, Superman’s fought classic villains Doomsday (in Action) and the Eradicator (in Superman). In the Superman title, we see Clark work to adapt his son to blending in with humanity, just as his adoptive parents did for him. It’s been an interesting progression of Clark’s character. As he helps his son understand his budding powers, we can imagine him asking himself, “What would Pa Kent do?”
The war the Eradicator wages against the Kents, or the Smiths, for seven issues was a substantial one. It’s always an incredible action sequence when Clark is pushed to his mental and physical limits to defeat his foes, and his moon battle with the Eradicator is no different. Furthermore, the moon battle gets televised for all the world to watch and by the end of the issue, everyone knows the Man of Steel is back.
It should be evident now that family is the name of the game for Tomasi and Gleason. Every issue of the Superman Rebirth title has pushed home the importance of the Kents’ relationship with one another as a familial unit, but this issue has the best example so far of what their lives are like when they are not in mortal danger. Instead, we get Clark and Jon and Lois being the family we know they are but have rarely seen while at rest.
This by no means however implies that Superman does not get to be Super. Some great opening panel moments include what Clark’s day typically entails: watch over the Earth, help the League, trade lines with Batman, et cetera.
Tomasi and Gleason also utilize this issue to develop Jon as a kid, a kid who also happens to be coming into amazing power of his own. He gets excited about going out to eat, playing games and eating junk. We get to see Kathy and her grandfather and the fact that Jon is a relatable kid whose folks want him to socialize and have friends. Jimenez’s art shows all the variable expressions Jon can work up here, complete with dynamic action poses. While the rage here in this issue is to express joy on Jon’s part, as opposed to showing Clark’s strength in action panels, Jimenez proves that this is a book his talents are well suited for. From the linework to the colors, everything about the atmosphere and mood of the comic summons feelings of authenticity and warmth.
While there is a plot focusing on a group of robbers, this leads into one of the funnier parts of the book. Tomasi utilizes old-school Clark mannerisms to showcase how Clark stops crime without putting on the cape. This also helps deliver the final page’s best moment.
I am hard pressed to recall a book, any book, within the last year that so wonderfully pulled at the heartstrings like this one. From the facial expressions of Jon having to talk school while at the fair, to Lois’ face at hearing how Clark snuck in crimefighting, to … everything. Everything about this comic is as true to the essence of Superman as possible.
Try not to smile at the last page. I dare you.
And that wraps up 4CB for this week. More four color commentary next week. Have a great one, folks!