Last week DC Comics’ relaunched their superhero titles with Rebirth. Today I am looking at another of the introductory issues, Superman: Rebirth #1.
Setting up the new status quo for Rebirth, Superman is the Post-Crisis version, now in the New 52 universe, and starring in this tale. The story is PC Superman trying to resurrect New 52 Superman following his death during the events of the Final Days of Superman storyline.
Starting off, there is a recap to get readers up to speed on PC Superman. Following the events of the oh-so popular Convergence event, this Superman and his family of Lois and their son, escaped to the New 52 Earth and he has been operating in secret since.
PC Superman then goes to the memorial where New 52 Superman’s body has been lain to rest. In a very convenient “underground access tunnel” (why would they need that?), Superman runs into Lana Lang who is attempting to move his remains to Smallville. When she mistakes PC Superman for her Clark Kent, he explains to her who he is and his plan. He tells Lana of his battle with Doomsday and their deaths. Then, he details his own resurrection, and how he believes New 52 Superman can be brought back also.
Traveling to the Fortress of Solitude, they discover that this version lacks the Regeneration Matrix that was used to bring PC Superman back from the dead. Resigned, the take the remains and bury them next to Pa and Ma Kent in Smallville. Returning to the Fortress, Superman erects a statue of New 52 Superman next to ones of his parents. With the last panel, it is implied that this Superman will be taking over for his counterpart.
The purpose of this story seems to be putting New 52 Superman to rest and establishing PC Superman as the “true” Superman for this Earth. That is fine, and I have stated previously, I’m excited about having this character back. However, it feels false in that when they are not immediately able to bring the younger Superman back to life, they give up.
A few years ago, when Damian died, Batman spent months traveling the world, exhausting all avenues to return him to life. Now, these are different stories. Batman searching for Damian’s resurrection was to show his obsessive nature, and his inability to deal with his son’s death. This Rebirth issue, is to show that one Superman is truly gone and the impetus for another to take his place.
To show that Superman has one idea and then just throws his hands up though, is uncharacteristic. I’m not saying this story needed to be dragged out for months, and surely you don’t want that when you’re launching a new Superman title, but there are better ways to handle it. A couple of pages here could have been used for a montage of PC Superman and Lana searching the DC universe, looking for ways to bring him back. Anything to show that once the first idea failed, that they didn’t just turn around and go home.
New 52 Superman passed in the end of the Final Days of Superman story and his body turned to ash. So, none of us expect a comic book death to be permanent anymore, but turning to dust sure seems like a strong case for it. When I first saw the above panel, my first thought was that this would turn out to be some kind of “cocoon” and eventually his body would heal itself and he would be reborn. When his body collapsed into a pile in the next panel, I didn’t think that that was the case anymore.
There are better ways to get across that New 52 Superman is gone “for real.” They could have taken the ashes to any of the scientific minds on this world to verify that it was actually him and not a replacement or something. One of the magical characters could have tried to reach his soul, but found that it is beyond their reach, and thus, moved on. These ideas are just off the top of my head, and I had nothing to do with the planning and creation of this comic book. The point here should be that one hero has fallen and is not returning, but that this world still needs a Superman. Not that, this one thing we tried didn’t work, so I guess this guy is Superman now.
The fact this was written by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, the guys who did the Batman story mentioned previously, is surprising. That story was so well done, where this one feels rushed to finish up in the one issue so we can move on to the new series.
Doug Mahnke is the penciller of this issue and will be sharing the bi-weekly duties on the series with Patrick Gleason. I think that they are great choices to work together as they are friends and their styles compliment each other. It should lead to a smooth transition between books and work well. My only concern is that their style seems too dark for a Superman book. I’m not sure how the tone will work on this. I thought the same thing about Mahnke’s run on JLA. I always felt it was just a little too dark for the book. Working on Superman would surely exacerbate that.
Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing “my” Superman coming back. I like the creative team, but am worried about the tone being too dark for Superman. I will pick up the first few issues and see how it goes. Hopefully, this will be a run on Superman worth sticking around for.