Graphic Novel Reviews: Superman 001-007

What if Superman turned evil? That is basically the premise of the first seven issues. I haven’t read any Superman before, but I’m pretty sure that’s been done before. This series starts off well, with Superman and Lois not married, seriously DC, what is canon and what isn’t canon anymore? Dick used to be Batman, so Final Crisis happened, but Clark and Lois are no longer married? Pretty sure that happened before Final Crisis, ah, whatever. I’ll just settle for, DC doesn’t know what is canon anymore.

Anyway, as I was saying, the series starts off well, focusing on Superman’s personal conflict as Clark Kent, as the Daily Planet is bought up by a media company whose business practices Clark does not agree with. This is a perfect example of how to write drama with Superman. Most people’s argument against Superman is that there’s not drama in his stories because he’s too powerful, and writers have to rely on kryptonite to power him down to a more relatable, vulnerable level.

Not so say I. While the story does eventually come back to Superman punching his enemy really hard, it still shows that there are ways to make a character like Superman relatable. It’s not about super powers, because if the relatability of characters depended on whether they have powers or not, then the most relatable DC character would be Batman. Except he is not. Unless a reader is an orphan who lost his parents in a mugging, and spends millions of dollars fighting crime, then chances are the average reader can’t relate to Batman all that well.

What’s important is personality. And while Batman’s personal story is great, Superman tends to be more of a real person. For Batman, Bruce Wayne is the mask, but for Clark Kent the mask is Superman. Clark Kent, despite being an alien with godly powers, is still a real person, and the crux involving any drama in his stories relies on this fact. For example, at the end of the first issue, Superman accidentally interupts Lois in the middle of a one night stand. For anyone that has had to watch someone they love in a relationship with a different person, this hits home. Superman is a relatable character because his drama surrounds human emotions.

Of course the story can’t be entirely about that kind of drama, when you have a character with superhuman strength, he darn well better hit something at some point. And even here writer George Perez manages to keep things interesting for a few issues. He does so by invoqueing a lot of collateral damage. People are at risk if Superman does not figure out how to defeat his enemies. In one of the fights Superman is unable to see his foe, and it’s only by using TV monitors that he is able to find, and defeat, his enemy. Out of all the issues I’d say this fight is my favorite.

I’m not so keen on the conclusion to this arc. While I did enjoy seeing a Superman who over steps his bounds, and goes to extreme measures to keep his city safe, I was peeved to find out that I had to have read Action Comics to fully comprehend who the main villain of the whole arc was. When something is foreshadowed like this in a single book, that’s clever, when it’s done between two books, each with their own price tag, then it’s just obnoxious.

Besides the less than stellar ending, I felt there was enough promise in the earlier issues to warrant continuing this series. At this point the first storyline is complete, and with the eight issue we’ll be starting a completely new storyline. I look forward to seeing where the story goes  next.

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