Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Review: Superman #1

George Perez's  Daily Planet #1  Superman #1 showcases DC's modern-day Superman, as opposed to Grant Morrison's much lauded Action Comics #1 which features a youthful Supes getting to grips with his powers. But this book isn't about how Clark's character has developed in the years we're not privy to. In fact, even Lois gets more development, because this book is about the rebirth of one of Superman's staple background characters: the Daily Planet.

Thus falls the city's monumental building. Best not to analyse this.
To Perez's credit, what he does manage to do with this issue is to tell an entire conclusive story in the space of 25 pages. It suitably establishes the setting, an antagonist is introduced to be terrorizing the city, and it's resolved by the end of the book. This all happens whilst the primary story of Lois Lane's Daily Planet career plays out in the forefront. I couldn't say that Superman #1 is uneventful. I will, however, say that sometimes quality is more important than quantity.

This book has SO. MUCH. TEXT. The inordinate amount of story is only possible because it's unusually compressed; in some cases there are 13 panels to a page and who knows how many speech bubbles. It feels as if you're reading two comics that must have been so average, they were merged into one to compensate for their shoddiness.

Hmm. Know what this needs? More text bubbles! 

Much of the book is narrated through segments of Clark's news report, which acts as a by-the-numbers explanation of what happens in the panels. While it is an atypical storytelling device, it adds nothing that the artwork doesn't already show, only cluttering the page. Such word-clutter wouldn't be so bad if the narration actually served a purpose. But that's not the case here. How can there be so many words that say nothing at all?

Maybe it's unfair to compare this to Morrison's book, though it would have been nice to see some dialogue or narration that worked on more than just face value. Frankly, what we get is a completely ordinary tale that seems like it's been told a hundred times before. There's a glaring lack of any thematic understanding, subtleties or subtext. Other than this one picture.

Clark's verdict: This blows!
On top of the lackluster writing, another unwelcome (and frankly confusing) surprise was seeing that Perez had shoehorned in a whole page that only served to advertise Stormwatch #1, which from what I could tell had no relation whatsoever to the story at hand. When you're cramming so much into the rest of the pages, is it really necessary to veer from the action like this?

This wasn't the only example of flagrant advertising, either.
The art is undoubtedly the only good thing about this book. Jesus Merino's artwork, when not obscured by a flood of speech bubbles and text boxes, is beautiful throughout. His action scenes are particularly immersive, doing a wonderful job of conveying motion, energy and force that's perfectly suited to a Superman comic. In fact, the only fault that I can find with it is that it's obscured at all. If this were a 'silent', text-less issue, it would probably be twice as enjoyable. 

It saddens me to think that more new readers will be most likely be drawn to Superman's eponymous title rather than the vastly superior Action Comics, because this a poorly executed story, and a chore to read. I went in with high expectations, and having read such uninspired, generic work, I left with a bad taste in my mouth, and spouting tired cliches. When you're reinventing a character, a good place to start might be to try something different.

I, for one, certainly won't be picking up this book again.

By PalpZak with No comments


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