One of the biggest complaints about comics in the last decade has been about the Superman titles. They have been awful. And I think it’s something that has gnawed at DC Comics for a long time and for whatever reason, nothing they do for the title/character seems to work. Particularly for the last five years, readers have been exceedingly disappointed with Superman and have expressed their concerns by simply not buying or reading these titles. This is a really sad thing because Superman is so kosmically recognizable that there is just something unsettling about no one being interested, let alone excited, about his comics.
I think that within the deep recesses of the hearts of comic fans there was a, quite natural, hope that with DC’s New 52, Superman would be saved. Not rehabilitated, but heroically saved. The complaints of the last decade that Superman titles were boring, scattered, uninteresting, pointless, and stupid were valid and probably hit DC pretty hard. So, everyone probably expected that the New 52 would solve these issues and send Superman titles to the top of the charts – where he belongs (even if fanboys do not dare admit they believe this).
On Action Comics, DC put the famous, but difficult, writer Grant Morrison. I’ve gone over that situation in my reviews for Action Comics. For the Superman title, DC gave the reins to writer George Perez. Perez is one of those industry-standard writers who has written Wonder Woman and Silver Surfer among other titles. I was pleased that he was selected as I felt that he was a solid choice for a proven, but not extreme writing style. Now, Superman also appears in DC’s “flagship” – Justice League, which is being written by star writer Geoff Johns. Surely, with the New 52 and these three writers writing the character, there is no way Superman could fail.
Action Comics may or may not be good. It’s certainly not a “basic” comic read. Morrison has some different perspectives and ideas as to how stories should be told. Geoff Johns’ Superman is good – but since he’s a member of a supergroup, he does not get much face time or development. Superman’s entrance, though, is still one of the highlights of the start of the New 52. The Superman title penned by Perez looked so pretty. It contained a lot of action, fighting, flying, battling, etc. However, it felt scattered and disconnected. Some readers felt it was confusing and disoriented. Ultimately, it was a disappointment. While the character is freshened, the problems with the title still seemed to be present. We all wanted to love the title. Most of us ended up dropping the title from subscription lists with a dejected, puzzled feeling.
However, it seems DC was willing to do something proactive about the situation. Starting in issue #6, they added writers Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. Both of these writers/artists are also solid creators who are no strangers to the industry. Issue #6 was nothing great, but I do feel it was better than the previous five. Finally, in issue #7, I can say that this is a real Superman comic. This is a storyline that I can follow without frustration or annoyance. This is art that looks fantastic and the character does not seem like a haphazard mess of confusion.
Superman’s thoughts are presented in a reasonable manner – he does seem younger and bolder. The opening fight is easy to follow and interesting enough that it does not seem like just frames of action shots. I like that there is a linear storyline – a problem, a setting, villains, and friends. The art perfectly matches the story and the story seems, finally, like it is going somewhere. The first five issues seemed really in media res and random. This seems like there is a real story going on, which is a nice change. In other words, this issue is a well-organized, linear, solid story. The artwork is above average and it is not messy.
I am interested in the villain, Helspont. I know he has history in DC, but I want to see if the New 52 has changed anything – or will change anything. I want him to be a worthy villain that Superman can battle with both physically and intellectually. He’s also drawn to look mighty cool.
I kind of feel bad for those readers who dropped Superman before issue #7. They probably won’t believe this is any good. And, well, even though this issue is a solid 4 stars, all readers are probably dubious about believing that anything good will come to pass with this title, anyway. After all, it’s hard to forget a decade of mediocrity and boring. It is my real hope, though, that Jurgens and Giffen CAN AND WILL make this a worthwhile, interesting title. But, one issue isn’t enough……….