Review: Superman #1
This comic is our first glimpse of Superman in the present of the DCnU and five years into his superhero career. Unlike Action Comics #1, where we see his early days as a costumed crusader, Superman #1 shows the Man of Steel already established as the champion of Metropolis. In many ways, this comic is less about Superman and more about the Daily Planet. The old and iconic Daily Planet building has been demolished and replaced by a bigger and more modern version. This relaunch of the Daily Planet seems to be a bit of a metacommentary on DC’s New 52, and it’s a fitting way to restart Superman in the DCnU.
The issue opens on the demolition of the Daily Planet building. I couldn’t help but read this scene as a sort of ceromonial send off to the old DCU. The old Daily Planet building, which is perhaps the most recognizable edifice in the DCU, is torn down and replaced by a taller, more modern, and more impressive building. Much like the old DCU has been torn down and supplanted by a sleeker DCnU, so too has the Daily Planet building been leveled and replaced by a new and redesigned version. The Daily Planet has been bought by Morgan Edge and his company Galaxy Communications. Morgan Edge is relaunching the Daily Planet, and although he says his intention is “not to bury the Daily Planet but to raise it”, it’s clear that Perez is implying that this may be the moral death of the newspaper that historically served as the last bastion of journalistic integrity.
George Perez is offering a metafictional commentary on the DC Comics relaunch by beginning his arc on Superman with a relaunch of the Daily Planet. He even has Lois Lane say to Clark Kent, “You’ve seen the figures! Print is dying! We need this to survive!” Lois’s claim that print is dying and that the Daily Planet needs a relaunch to survive the transition to digital obviously applies to DC Comics; the falling sales numbers of monthly comics, the failure to break that elusive 100k barrier, and the rise of digital comics all but forced DC Comics to overhaul their entire strategy.
Although the relaunch of the Daily Planet is a clever use of metafiction, what I find more interesting is that Clark Kent is very much against the new corporate ownership of his beloved employer. It’s intriguing that Perez has Clark convinced that Galaxy Communications will turn the Daily Planet into “just another scandal mongering rag”. Not only that, but it seems like Perez is foreshadowing that Morgan Edge will in fact be a corrupting influence on the ever so pure and honorable Daily Planet. Considering that he’s heavily involved with Intergang in the old DCU, it’s fair to assume that Morgan Edge won’t be good for the relaunched Daily Planet. It’s very interesting that Perez chose to portray the Daily Planet relaunch with such cynicism and dark undertones. Is Perez making some sort of veiled statement on the relaunch of DC Comics?
The rest of the plot of this issue involves Superman fighting some sort of strange fire monster. This fire entity is ravaging Metropolis with a seemingly random and unprovoked attack, and this gives Jesus Merino room to run with his illustrations of Superman in action. Merino’s depictions of Superman battling the raging infernos of the fire entity are great, and it’s clear that he works well with Perez’s breakdowns. It’s important that Superman is not portrayed as too self absorbed and Hamletesque like he was in Superman Returns; this issue definitely delivers the city shaking action that a Superman comic requires.
This fight scene is overlayed with captions that lift text from Clark Kent’s article on the event. Again, the focus is not on Superman, but on the Daily Planet and its coverage of his exploits. During Superman’s attempts to subdue the destructive fire entity, Perez details Lois Lane’s struggle to get adequate news coverage on the scene. It’s a fresh way to approach the Superman narrative to have the attention more on the media’s response rather than the Man of Steel himself.
Our first look at the Superman of the present day DCnU is both entertaining and engaging. Perez delivers the action that people want from a Superman comic, and also a highly interesting metafictional commentary with the relaunch of the Daily Planet. Perez’s idea to view Superman through the lens of the media and their reaction to his adventures is relevant to our media dominated world, and it’s a very appealing way to tell Superman stories. Overall, I thought that this was a well written and illustrated relaunch of Superman, and I’m on board for this series.