In Review: Superman #2

This is a superior book that touches on the strength and soul of a hero.

The covers: A pair of covers to scour the Earth, if you’re a fan of the Man of Steel. The Regular cover is by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz, the interior artist, inker, and colorist. It’s a neat shot of Superman rising upward through the clouds, posed in his iconic flying stance. It’s a good cover, but there are an awful lot of clouds compared to what’s shown of the title character. There’s even a ton of space between Superman’s upraised fist and the title. It looks as if the artists thought the logo would be lower and the fist superimposed partially over it. Again, it’s good, but the character is too distant from the reader. The Variant cover is a stronger frontpiece. Kenneth Rocafort has Superman halting a missile’s path as he stands atop some metallic rubble. This shows the hero better, plus he’s shown in action. I also like that his eyes have been colored red, showing that he’s pretty upset with whoever launched this weapon. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant A

The story: After last issue’s dramatic ending of Superman coming into his son’s room, he’s shown carrying young Johnathan out to an frosty setting. He’s there to help a coast guard icebreaker that’s become stuck. Wonder Woman and Batman appeared last issue to ask if he would assist them in helping the vessel, however Superman reveals, “…so I told the League I’d handle it without them, and that you’re the only help I need.” Jon’s doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but his father, after placing him at a distance, just wants him to “listen, watch, and learn.” He’s using this as a teachable moment for the boy since he knows his child has the same abilities he has and that he needs to see how they’re used. Naturally, Superman easily dislodges. As he shakes hands with the grateful crew, the ship is shot upwards by a giant tentacled monster. The rescue is going to be much more difficult than Kal-El thought. This is a genius opening from Peter J. Tomasi. How the creature is defeated is outstanding and why the creature was attacking the ship is smart. The startling part of this story is it doesn’t take all issue: the problem is solved and then it’s back home where Clark and Lois have a major discussion, Jon and Kathy have a moment, and Clark does something utterly stunning on Page 18. His reaction is understandable given the situation, but — Wow! — that’s the unforgettable moment of the book! And just as drama is heating up in the Smith home, the final two pages bring back a villain from the 1990s that left me overjoyed. This character’s return is smart and I cannot wait to see what damage he’ll inflict on the Smiths. This was a terrific story. Overall grade: A+

The art: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray are turning out to be my favorite artistic team of the summer. The visuals on this book capture the epic scale that a Superman story demands and make the Smith family’s home life believable. The book opens with father and son flying to the cold location. A beautifully frightful face on Jon opens the book and is utterly put at ease from the close up of his father in the fourth panel: this panel would put any person at ease with all the love and trust it communicates. Pages 2 and 3 are a double-page spread showing Superman rescuing the ship, with ice falling everywhere as he lifts the vessel. The profile of Superman in the second panel on Page 4 made my heart sing — that’s a beautiful, perfect, heroic, strong profile. This is Superman. The creature attacking the ship is a wonderful monster; it could be an octopus but there’s something just not right with its tentacles (and if a reader is paying attention, the artists give several visual clues that something’s not wholly organic about this beast). Page 7 is a great action sequence, with the bottom four panels being frightful and full of trust. The top panel on 8 was a stand and applaud image to perfectly match the text. 13 is a wonderfully moving splash page that’s an emotional home run. It reminded me of the heartfelt moments from The Andy Griffith Show, and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way — it comes across has a wholly honest emotional moment for this family. The intensity of the characters in the fourth panel on the following page is outstanding, and the subtle use of powers in the final panel on 15 is great. The fourth panel on 18 is startling and the image I’ll remember from this book — it scared me! Great action and great moments brought to life with great illustrations. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Absolutely beautiful colors on this book from John Kalisz. A big takeaway from his work on this book are the characters’ eyes. Gleason and Gray give Kalisz ample opportunity to show off the gorgeously big blue eyes of father and son and he does so stunningly. The blues of both, shown initially on the first page, are a vivid blue that’s just a titch lighter than the costume of the hero. Christopher Reeve had eyes that beautiful and Kalisz makes these as equally stunning. The creature that attacks the vessel is a sickly violet highlighted by some eerie green glowing pieces; it’s just the right pairing of colors to have the reader think something is not natural with this monster. The oranges, yellows, and reds used on 7 and 8 will make the reader gasp. It’s nice to see orange used for a very different purpose on 13 – 15; and that’s a sweet use of color in the final panel on 15 to tell the reader what’s happening. To paraphrase This Is Spinal Tap, these colors shoot the visuals up to 11. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, whispers, the story’s title, the book’s credits, yells, moans, a villain’s unique form of speech, a package’s addresses, a famous location’s A.I., and the tease for next issue are created by Rob Leigh. His fonts are a perfect match for the visuals on the page. The whispers on 2 and 3 are tiny enough to give the reader the perfect feel for how Superman hears these voices. The sounds are tremendous and fun on the fight scenes. The villain’s font on 13 is a perfect hint for long time readers to realize who is this villain is before being shown on the last page. Leigh is exactly the right letterer for this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is a superior book that touches on the strength and soul of a hero. This is a “Must Read” book. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To find out more about this book and others that feature Superman go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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