In Review: Superman: Rebirth #1

This will get me to purchase Superman when it begins on June 15.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, and Wil Quintana, this issue’s penciller, inker, and colorist. Superman is speeding at the reader with his right fist out and his eyes bursting with red energy. Anyone would hate to be on the receiving end of this fury. The more one looks at his cover the more the line work in the hero’s face looks overdone and the coloring average. Better is the Variant cover by Andy Park which has Superman hovering over the new DC Bullet logo. He looks very much like Henry Cavill and he’s sporting a, once again, new uniform for the Man of Steel. This Superman looks absolutely strong. Overall grades: Regular B- and Variant A 

The story: The first page of this book recounts the living Superman’s brief interplay with the recently deceased Superman. The dead Kryptonian is buried in Metropolis and the living hero visits his grave. With his innate super abilities he hears something coming from within the memorial: in an underground access tunnel, Lana Lang is trying to open the dead man’s tomb. She senses someone near and turns to see a familiar figure with an “S” on his chest and she rushes to him, “Clark!” She hugs the man. “You’re alive! What happened–How did you–” But she’s cut off by Superman who tells her “I’m afraid I’m not who you think I am.” She naturally gets mad, but he stops her by saying, “I know it’s confusing, but I am Superman. Just not the one you know and care about, Miss Lang.” Writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason allow the two to have a conversation about life, death, and rebirth, with this Superman, the only Superman now in the DC Universe, giving his origin to Lana. In the process the two become partners and travel to an iconic setting. Once there the two stumble upon a message meant for someone else. Superman also sees something that surprises him and it is incredibly touching. In the end, he helps Lana complete a promise she made and in the process change the way Superman considers himself. This was a really emotional ride that I was not expecting. This is the Superman I grew up with, a highly principled individual who wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t always think of it on his own. Having Lana be his confidant is a good role for her, bringing her back into the series. I actually found myself smiling at the end of this issue. I haven’t done this with a Superman book in a forever. Overall grade: A+

The art: Doug Mahnke’s pencils and Jaime Mendoza’s inks create some amazing visuals. Even with the first page consisting of five small panels, the details within them are easy to see. Lana’s conversation with Clark is intense, with the reader drawn into every close up. If this has seemed a bit calm for the reader, the double-paged splash of 8 and 9 is a staggering image from Superman’s epic clash with Doomsday. The next four pages show the tremendous battle, culminating with the Man of Steel’s death. 14 shows Superman’s rebirth and it’s awesome. The northern location that Lana and Superman journey to looks outstanding. The recording that the pair discover froze me as much as it did them. The fourth panel on Page 18 gives the reader so much insight into Superman’s thoughts with that outstanding expression on his face. This occurs again in the second panel on 19; a reader can feel the pain of his words just by looking at his face. The next setting that the pair journey to is solemn and it’s screaming of pent up emotions, ending in a fantastic silent final panel. The final page has only Superman on it and I couldn’t resist joining in this iconic character’s smile in the final panel. These are the type of emotions that the art of Superman should give its readers. Wow. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Wil Quintana’s colors are the perfect match for this issue’s visuals. The yellows and oranges of the first page introduce the reader to some of the energy that this saga has had. A turn of the page has this energy countered by the solemn colors of Superman’s memorial. Things go even dimmer down where Lana is trying to enter the tomb. Her orange hair makes her a center of focus whenever she appears and so does anything that is hit by the lights she brought. Quintana truly hits his high point coloring the battle with Doomsday — everything is bright and bold. The setting in the north has perfect blues and whites to dress the location. Superman’s eyes are absolute astounding with their vivid blues, reminding one of Christopher Reeve. Terrific work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, scene settings, sounds, yells, story credits, mechanical speech, and a recording are born by Rob Leigh. Having the narration be a different font from the dialogue is a good visual clue for the reader to know that he or she is looking at a different form of communication and those final two non-human forms of speech look fantastic, making the fantasy of the book seem more real. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This will get me to purchase Superman when it begins on June 15. I was emotionally drawn into the story and the visuals were exceptional. Thank you, DC, for this Superman. Overall grade: A+

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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