Superman has been the the flagship character of the entire superhero genre since he began, and his backstory has undergone some significant changes in the wake of the New 52 DC relaunch. In Grant Morrison's Action Comics, he's been running around in jeans, threatening to break necks and terrorizing people in more of a Batman-style, but in George Perez's Superman, which takes place in the here and now, Kal-El is a lot more like the guy you remember – the one with the red underpants.
Sure, he looks a little different, he's not married to Lois Lane anymore and she and Jimmy are working in television now, but in his first two issues, the industry legend Perez does a great job in holding our apprehensive fanboy hands through these big new developments, including the transition to the new-school Daily Planet and the new status quo of Superman's personal life. In Superman #2, Perez gives us a nice, respectful sort of post-mortem on the classic professional rivalry between Lois and Clark Kent, establishing that while her job may have changed, there is still a deep level of respect and friendship between the two, and of course, the potential for them to reunite again down the road, but things are going to be different now and there, there, little nerd, it's all right when things change sometimes, it just takes some getting used to, don't be scared, don't be internet-angry, just trust that we like everything you like, but we're trying something new, okay? Please give it a chance.
We also get the establishment of the enmity between Superman and Lois' father, General Sam Lane – seen helping Lex Luthor torture young Clark in Action Comics. It seems like the Man of Steel has his own Thunderbolt Ross, who looks at Big Blue as if he's a rampaging monster like the Hulk, a magnet for chaos, destruction and monsters trying to kill him, endangering his daughter and destroying Metropolis in the process. The classic trope – do superheroes quell danger or inspire and attract it?
Most of Perez's renown is as an artist, and while he's only doing the breakdowns for Jesus Merino's pencils and inks, it still looks and feels a lot like a George Perez book. It's incredibly detailed and as dense visually as it is textually. Both of these first two issues have had interesting and fun fights with strange monsters out to get Superman, both of them mysterious with 'Krypton' on their lips. The trick in this issue is that the beast is somehow completely invisible to Kryptonian senses, so half the time it looks like Superman's getting his butt handed to him by absolutely nothing. It's kind of an interesting idea, that despite all the super-senses, there's some sweet spot where humans can perceive things that Kryptonians can't. It's a well-laid out sequence of events – of course it is, it's George Perez – that also gives us a great justification for having Lois and Jimmy working television now, too.
This isn't the brash kid from Action Comics that's a bit hard to swallow. This is your father's Superman, even if he's gotten a wardrobe upgrade (and I have to say, the new Jim Lee look is a good one – it feels the same, yet different in a weirdly pleasant way). Metropolis likes him and roots for him, he's wise, selfless, compassionate and kind. Maybe he's a little emo about Lois, but overall, he's still pretty much the guy you think of when you think of Superman.
Let's hope Perez's respect for tradition isn't why he's leaving the book after issue 6, to be replaced by Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. We were told at New York Comic-Con that Perez had a different project he was more jazzed about and might just not have had enough in the tank to keep going on Superman. Let's hope it was his choice, and not because he wasn't kewl and New 52 edgy-new enough.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8.9/10