Superman 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen thrown around about Superman as a character is that he’s “too powerful,” that nothing can challenge a man who can quite literally juggle planets. There’s a bit of truth to this, to be sure, but it’s a narrow criticism, one that only takes into consideration physical challenges; the most interesting Superman stories are the ones that challenge him morally, ethically, or in ways that make his physical abilities useless. Superman 1 is such a story, an issue that finds the character at his most physically competent, yet feeling more lost and helpless than ever before.  Continue reading

Not Quite a Moral Challenge in Superman 40

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

While Superman’s abilities to punch hard, fly fast, and jump high are the sizzle to his steak, the real meat (pardon the tortured metaphor) of Clark Kent as a character is his strong moral center. Comic books are lousy with characters possessing superpowers, but only a precious few represent truth and goodness like the man from Krypton. That’s why the Superman stories that really stick with us are the ones that find ways to challenge his moral certitude — and by challenging it, ultimately end up amplifying it even more. At multiple points, James Robinson and Doug Mahnke’s Superman 40 is on the precipice of testing the Man of Steel’s philosophical strength in interesting ways, but never shows any interest in doing so.

Continue reading

The Big Brother of Steel in Superman 39

By Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

With DC’s recent announcement that The Man of Steel will be regaining his red trunks, it looks like they’re embracing the the classic Superman of yore. Another example is Superman 39, which centers around Superman spending the day with young cancer patients. If that’s not golden age wholesome, then I don’t know what is. Continue reading

Feeling the Crossover Blues in Superman 38

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

I consider a Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason credit on a comic book to be a mark of quality, almost a guarantee that the book I’m picking up will deliver a good time. Such a strong track record makes an issue like Superman 38, an issue that pretty much misses every mark across the board, a bit mystifying. How to account for such a discrepancy?
Continue reading

The Power of Faith and Trust in Superman 36

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

Fans and creators alike often complain that it’s hard to find a proper challenge for Superman when the character is so unfathomably powerful. But as far as I’m concerned, the best Superman stories aren’t the ones that challenge him physically, but the ones that test his morals and ideals, his methods and resolve. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s run on Superman has excelled in this respect, and issue 36 continues this streak, further defining Superman’s greatest strengths by showing what happens when he doesn’t live up to his own lofty standards. Continue reading

An Apokoliptian Mess in Superman 35

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

Superman 35 is the third chapter of the “Imperius Lex” arc, where Lex Luthor is trying to rescind his status as Lord of Apokolips. The Kent family has been separated across Apokolips, each dealing with the best of what Darkseid’s planet has to offer. It’s hard not to think of the last time Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason sent us to Apokolips in the pages of Batman and Robin. Unfortunately, this is light years away from that bombastic Bat-tale. Continue reading

Deathstroke’s Murky Morality in Superman 32

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Superman’s moral code is not complex, and that’s a great thing about him as far as I’m concerned. Superman does good simply because it’s the right thing to do, and he never kills — Man of Steel nonwithstanding, he always finds a way to win without sacrificing his morals, because that’s just who Superman is. Deathstroke’s morality is far more murky, and that leads to some interesting juxtaposition in Superman 32. Continue reading

Ace Reporter Lois Lane Returns in Superman 31

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

So much of Rebirth-ed Superman has been focused on Clark and Lois as parents. These familial dynamics are an interesting lens through which to view such storied characters, but doing so has largely left Lois cast in a passive role. The cover of Superman 31 promises fisticuffs between the Man of Steel and Deathstroke, but the issue is really all about Lois Lane, Ace Reporter, and how sweet it is to have this version of Lois back. Continue reading

The Details Drag Down a Strong Premise in Superman 30

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s a particular brand of story that eschews hard logic or consistent rules for pure emotional storytelling: think Doctor Who at its best, where rules are often bent or changed to support the emotional thrust a given episode, or even the old Teen Titans animated series, where Trigon was defeated by the metaphor of Raven growing up, even if there was never explanation given as to how she gained so much raw power. This kind of storytelling can be tricky: if the emotions and metaphors work well enough readers will forgive (or perhaps not even notice) any gaps in logic, but there’s always the risk that they won’t. For my money, Superman 30 falls a little too close to the latter category; there’s a strong emotional core here, but also a lot of details that don’t fully add-up or make sense. Continue reading

Facing Horror with Virtue in Superman 29

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

Rarely does Superman venture into horror territory, and rarer still does it do so as successfully as in Keith Champagne and Doug Mahnke’s Superman 29. The duo take a story featuring child abduction, possession, and a generally dour and oppressive atmosphere — things I generally would find anathema to a good Superman story — and make them work by never compromising Superman as a character. In fact, while Superman is brave and dependable as always, Champagne and Mahnke dial up his virtue to exaggerated heights, the better to combat the strange darkness of the material. Continue reading