20 July 2011

DC Comics: The New 52 - Superman Spotlight

Unlike Batman, Superman is getting a major makeover as part of the DC Comics relaunch.  In fact, he's being entirely reset.  In the new continuity, Superman is the first superhero to become known by the public (whereas in the continuity of the last 25 years, Superman was a second generation superhero).  The Kents are dead by the time we meet grown-up Clark.  Speaking of Clark, that persona is allegedly far less important than Kal-El.  His powers have been dramatically scaled back.  When we first meet him in Action Comics #1, he can leap tall buildings, but cannot fly for instance.  Also, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are no longer married; she's got a different beau at the Daily Planet.  And just wait till you see the changes to his costume design....

Action Comics
$3.99 - 7 September 2011
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales and Rick Bryant
Cover by Rags Morales
The one and only Grant Morrison returns to Superman, joined by sensational artist Rags Morales (IDENTITY CRISIS), to bring you tales of The Man of Steel unlike any you’ve ever read! This extra-sized debut issue is the cornerstone of the entire DC Universe!
Action Comics, from what I've learned outside this uninformative solicitation, is set during the very beginning of Superman's career which is about five years before the rest of the new continuity.  One of the things I really liked about Legends of the Dark Knight was that it was chiefly set during Batman's past while the other Batman books were present-day tales.  Action Comics seems to offer that same kind of contrasting dynamic for Superman.  Jeans, a T-shirt and a little red cape, though?

$2.99 - 28 September 2011
Written by George Perez
Breakdowns and Cover by George Perez
Art by Jesus Merino
The new adventures of Superman begin here! What is The Man of Steel’s startling new status quo? How does it affect Lois Lane and The Daily Planet? There’s no time for answers now, because Superman must stop a monstrous threat to Metropolis – one that he somehow is the cause of!
First of all, someone's English teacher has just been shamed by that last sentence.  Did the solicitation typist really not think of ending it with, "one that he somehow caused?"  Anyway, as far as I can tell, this series is set during the present, meaning that it's five years after Action Comics.  If Superman looks more familiar in that small picture, click on it to see the full image and you'll see he's wearing Kryptonian battle armor of some kind.  Nice to see George Perez at the helm of a Superman series.

$2.99 - 14 September 2011
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by Rb Silva and Rob Lean
Cover by Eric Canete
They thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience?
Now we get into the confusing parts of the relaunch.  In the last continuity, Superman died in battle with Doomsday and was cloned.  That clone broke free before reaching maturity and eventually became Superboy.  It's not indicated in this solicitation, but elsewhere I've read that DC is keeping all that as part of this character's past.  "The Death of Superman" still happened (sometime between Action Comics and Superman, apparently, but when you read all that, you're apparently supposed to ignore the part about Clark and Lois being engaged and her knowing his identity).  So, um, yeah, have fun reconciling all that.

$2.99 - 21 September 2011
Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Art and Cover by Mahmud Asrar
Meet Supergirl. She’s got the unpredictable behavior of a teenager, the same powers as Superman – and none of his affection for the people of Earth. So don’t piss her off!
Maybe it's just me, but this entire characterization of Supergirl sounds condescending and misogynistic, like the world is just going to have to put up with her teen drama and periods until she matures and becomes less bitchy.  Green and Johnson are the writers of the current Supergirl series, though, and DC must have confidence in them and their series's sales to keep them working on her.

Additionally, Superman is a member of Justice League and Superboy is part of Teen Titans.  Maybe if Supergirl is a little more "Becky" and a little less "Darlene," she can join a supergroup, too.

When I stand back and look at all this, I see some stuff that has potential and other stuff that just seems destined for failure.  I like the idea of a Superman series set at a different time than the rest, but I think with only one other Superman book on the market that distinction isn't as pronounced as it was when Legends of the Dark Knight was published alongside four other present-day ongoing Bat-books.  I also like the idea of scaling back his powers, and for years I've felt that there is a lot of rich, unexplored territory to be mined by delving into Kal-El, the alien rather than Clark Kent, the assimilated alter ego.  Given that both George Perez and Jesus Merino are Hispanic, it's easy to imagine Superman being a social commentary series about modern America and its identity crisis re: immigration.  That has great potential.

I wish they hadn't undone the Lois & Clark marriage, but I understand it.  I just hope they don't repeat the mistake of Superman Returns and commit Lois to someone else.  Lois & Clark don't have to be together, but the only thing preventing this should be the dynamic of their relationship with one another, not someone else.  And, of course, I'm not terribly wowed by either Superboy or Supergirl.

Other DC Comics: The New 52 spotlights
Green Lantern

Justice League
Superheroes (Captain Atom, Mister Terrific, Hawkman, Firestorm)
Young Justice
The Dark
The Edge

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