Review: SUPERMAN #1


Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, John Kalisz, & Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 15, 2016

Up, up, and away Jonathan!

Clark, Lois, and their son Jon are living on the Kent farm, hidden away from the rest of the world. Aside from barn fires, everything seems idyllic, but not to Jon. As his powers manifest in a massive burst of energy, he feels weighed down by guilt, grief, and the pain of secrecy that keeps his family on the farm. However, he may get a chance for flight when his father approaches him with a startling demand.

I didn’t expect Jon to be the focal point of this first issue of Superman, especially as he will be in his own series with Damian soon. Yet, what this choice of storytelling provides is an introduction to Jon while also channeling the strangeness surrounding this Clark post-Rebirth. I’m interested to see how this sets up Clark’s latest dynamics and what it means for Jon as his own character and in the context of the upcoming Super Sons.

Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason standout in their realistic portrayal of Jon and his emotions. His responses to his parents and to the loss of Goldie, a jarring scene if there ever was one, were realistically that of a young boy. Many boys and children around his age struggle with complex emotions and how to express them, and Tomasi and Gleason highlight this dynamic in Jon’s secret about the cat and his anger toward his parents.

While his presence was unexpected for me, he also provided a startling clarity in terms of expression and emotion, compared to the other characters, whose motives seem hidden. Like Jon, the readers are caught in a shroud of confusion as this family of Kents adjusts to life out of the public eye. Tomasi and Gleason’s set-up keeps just enough information out of our knowledge while using an emotional framework to invest us in Jon and the clandestine life of his family.

Gleason, along with Mick Gray on inks and John Kalisz on colors, portray some interesting technical elements throughout the issue. For one, there are few scenes where Clark and Lois are in full detail, compared to Jon who is drawn with incredible detail and focus. Gray’s inks add a sharpness to Jon and his new friend while emphasizing shadow and dark spots which occlude his parents features except in their most intense appearances. Kalisz enhances this effect by intensifying shadows in the adults, yet casting the children as visual bright spots in the narrative.

In the last panels of the issue, the art team visually sets up what feels like a parallel Superman. Clark is fine tending to animals and lifting tractors, but his guise as Superman in these final pages is ominous, much like the appearance of Wonder Woman and Batman. Because of this team’s artistic choices, Jon feels like the symbol of innocence and emotion, providing a great play off of him compared to the costumed heroes he watches from his bedroom.

Superman #1 is an interesting reintroduction to the character after the last five years and certainly after his Rebirth chapter. I’m excited to see where the story goes, particularly with Jon maintaining much of the focus, while also hesitant about what this means for the Big Blue Boy Scout. This first installment of the new Superman series is intriguing, holding more mystery than I expected. This team feels solid and seem as though they’re ready to tell an important story through their art and writing.

The Verdict: 8.0/10


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