More than any other character, it was Superman who chased me away from the New 52 reboot. I thought that Grant Morrison had an interesting take on the character in Action Comics, but it wasn’t what I wanted out of a Superman story. And the flagship Superman title did nothing for me at all.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t Superman.
Superman # 32 is the first comic I’ve read in a while that actually feels like a Superman story. The book is still stuck in the New 52 with that hideous redesigned costume and a very questionable status quo. But Geoff Johns gets Superman and he has a good take on both Clark Kent and his classic supporting cast. The scenes at the Daily Planet play out as if they could have been from any era of Superman history.
One of the more striking things that Johns brings to the issue is the examination of Clark Kent’s lonely private life. Perry White calls out Clark for pushing people away from him and he’s got a good point. Clark may not even realize how isolated he’s become, when his only social calls are to his girlfriend, Wonder Woman and Batman’s butler, Alfred.
That may be why Johns introduces Ulysses in this issue. Ulysses is a character who is on the surface, very similar to Superman himself. Johns goes out of his way to stress those similarities in the extended opening sequence for this comic. It also helps that this issue is a few pages longer than most DC Comics, which definitely helps the reading experience.
Of course, the other significant thing in this issue is John Romita JR., the legendary Marvel Comics artist who is making his debut at DC. Some of Romita’s faces are a little too similar to each other, but the level of energy that he brings to the book is infectious. I dare you not to smile when Superman takes on the giant ape, Titano.
Some things are out of Romita’s control. The excess lines on Superman’s New 52 costume still look ridiculous and out of place. I’m also not crazy about Romita’s design for Ulysses. But Romita does great action sequences and even his quieter moments with Clark Kent alone in his apartment work. Romita’s been doing this a long time and the man knows how to tell a story with his sequential images. That’s often an overlooked skill in comics.
This is not a perfect start for the new Superman creative team, but it’s really good and it’s more than enough to rekindle my interest. Johns and Romita really clicked together in this issue. I want to see if they can make Superman “Super” once again.