Find a New Fortress in Superman #1
The debut of the all-new Fortress of Solitude is here! Clark Kent searches the galaxy for his lost family and considers his place in the universe in Superman #1. Don’t miss guest stars Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, and the Martian Manhunter. Can Brian Michael Bendis surprise readers after his somewhat controversial debut in The Man of Steel?
Superman is a competent and sometimes fun book under the pen of Brian Michael Bendis. Superman #1 finally makes clear, along with recent interviews with Bendis, that the Kent family really isn’t going anywhere. Even when they aren’t on the page, Jon and Lois’s presences are heavily felt. There are a couple flashback scenes where Bendis continues to redeem his interpretations of the family. Despite this, there are other moments in which readers will find new reasons for concern here. Readers critical of Bendis will more than likely find themselves asking whether a new Fortress of Solitude was necessary, and if putting it in the Bermuda Triangle isn’t a little cliché. There’s also little explanation for why the Earth ends up in the phantom zone at the end of the issue. Through all the ups and downs of the issue remains Bendis’ iron-clad grip on Clark’s voice. Just as he did in The Man of Steel, Clark feels consistently authentic in every situation.
The crux of Superman #1 is in Clark’s conversation with the Martian Manhunter. Throughout the conversation, Clark is constantly having to stop to go end a disaster or put out a fire, and they’re some of the most Superman moments in the issue. The conversation, though, is about Martian Manhunter’s belief that the world needs someone to lead them into what’s essentially the galactic age. He doesn’t believe the world is prepared and he thinks Superman is the one to prepare them. Bendis uses this to excellently play on the theme of Ego he introduced in the Man of Steel series. This conversation is paired with Jor-El’s words from The Man of Steel to tempt Clark into making himself more important. That moment is cut off quickly, though, by the world’s transportation into the Phantom Zone.
Every time I see Ivan Reis’ artwork I can’t help thinking he just isn’t at the level he was when he was doing Aquaman. That’s not saying all that much, as he’s still one of the premiere splash page artists and is THE guy to go to when designing expansive new worlds. Some of his splash pages here are some of the most beautiful and heroic Superman pages I’ve seen in a while. The action is pitch-perfect throughout, which is amazing considering the depth of some of these action scenes. The level of detail at which he draws an entire Dominator armada is unbelievable. He really never struggles until he gets to faces. Sometimes they’re beautiful and expressive but sometimes they’re slightly off and lacking detail. He also can’t draw a couple kissing to save his life. The issues with his art are small though. He’s a treasure to have on this book and we can all only hope that he’s able to consistently stay on it.
I’m more hopeful for Bendis’ Superman after Superman #1 than I was after the conclusion of The Man of Steel. The confirmation from interviews that the Kent family will be back very soon is so comforting. Bendis’ grasp of Superman’s core themes shines here and acts as a promise of things to come. The only problem is you could’ve said that about the first and last issues of The Man of Steel. If Bendis keeps delivering promises with no fulfillment he’ll eventually wear out his welcome on this book.
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