Superman (vol.3) #1 (November, 2011)
“What Price Tomorrow?”
Writer/Breakdowns – George Perez
Penciller/Inker – Jesus Merino
Colorist – Brian Buccellato
Letterer – Carlos M. Mangual
Associate Editor – Will Moss
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99
I had this whole intro planned out… and mostly written, however by the time I got to my “point” it felt a rather out of place for the humble blog. The quick of it is, I just learned that a fella I followed on YouTube for years has passed away… not anyone I knew personally, or had very many exchanges with… but still, it stinks.
I dunno… I’m not a talented enough writer to truly put my thoughts on this subject into words so I’ll just end it here. RIP Emer.
We open in Metropolis with a view of the iconic Daily Planet building. A history lesson informs us as to what an institution the Planet has been to Metropolis for well over a century (almost two!)… which is the perfect time to, er… implode it? Our focus shifts to the all-new Daily Planet building, which I’m guessing is actually the Galaxy Communications building… perhaps? Whatever it is, it’s way too overblown to be the home of just a humble newspaper… or maybe not, what do I know?
The implosion of the old building is being aired during a gala event taking place at the new one. Here we meet new Planet owner Morgan Edge, who gets a new look, along with the core (or our core) Daily Planet staffers… well, minus a couple… neither Jimmy Olsen nor Clark Kent is nowhere to be seen.
That’s because Clark’s currently hovering above the ruins of the old Daily Planet building. Oh, Clark Kent is still Superman in this The New-52! world… spoiler alert. Jimmy’s also there filming the wreckage alongside a young lady named Miko. Miko tweets (erg) out that Superman was just seen… and we shift to the soon-to-open Metropolis Astrodome, where a pair of security guards are dutifully… watching the news. On another one of their monitors they see an bit of flame, which vanishes just as soon as it appears.
We rejoin Superman in the air. His super-hearing is picking up Morgan Edge’s address at the gala… it’s here we learn that W-GBS is getting some new call letters to commemorate it’s acquisition of the Daily Planet… PGN, “Planet Global Network”. He flashes back to an argument he had with Lois about the merger. Lois is adamant that it’s the only way forward… after all, print is dying (this was during DC’s first month of same-day digital comics), Clark feels that Galaxy is too scummy a company to be in bed with. It’s revealed that as part of the merger, Lois is getting a big executive promotion to Vice-President of New Media, which may have something to do with her stance. We also learn that she had been both a news anchor and newspaper reporter to this point, and Clark would be her replacement going forward.
We get a brief aside to an alien blowing a horn, which comes with a footnote to check out Stormwatch #1… an early attempt at New-52! cohesiveness that we will ignore, before returning to the Astrodome where one of the security guards is investigating the odd vanishing flame.
Back with Superman… in the distance, he sees a news chopper and police helicopter converging, and figures it would behoove him to check it out. What he discovers is a couple of masked geeks trying to steal a tanker truck. One mentions that they thought Superman was “out of town”, which we get the impression is a widely-held belief at this point.
Back at the gala we meet Ms. “Izzy” Izquierdo, the new publisher of the Daily Planet. She assures Perry White that he’s still the “final word”, as she intends to be hands-off in her approach. News of the tanker-theft hits the party, and Lois in her capacity of VP must act. At the same time, Superman has swooped under the tanker and has carried it into the sky.
Back at the Astrodome… that flitting flame, goes boom!
We rejoin Jimmy, Miko, and a cameraman as they are hot on the trail of Superman and the tanker. Superman’s trying to reason with the clown-masked geeks… and threatens to just hurl the tanker into orbit. He gives them until the count of three to disarm… however, by the time he reaches “two”, the tanker… goes boom!
The Metropolitans watch in shock from the ground below. All anyone can see via the televised news footage is a ball of flame. Superman recovers from the blast, and sees his present threat… a fire creature?
Over the next several pages, we see Superman and the fire creature duking it out. Lois calls to her news chopper, and tells them to fall back… much to the annoyance of Morgan Edge. She isn’t willing to risk any lives to get the story, buuuut… that’s not the woman Edge hired.
Back on the street, Superman has fallen back to the old-Daily Planet ruins and fetches the old-Daily Planet globe, which he hurls at the baddie! Wow, that’s actually what happens on the cover!
In the distraction, Superman spears the fire fella into orbit… where, without oxygen it gets snuffed out with the quickness. There is no humanoid form underneath the flame… it was a being composed entirely of a mystical fire. Upon extinguishing, the fire below also goes out… leaving no evidence of having even burned in the first place!
We wrap up with the biggest gut-punch of the issue. Clark heads down a hallway in an apartment building and buzzes a doorbell. Behind the door is… Lois Lane! They chat for a bit before being interrupted by Jonathan… Lois Lane’s boyfriend! Welp, that answers that.
This feels less like a Superman comic and more like an… Ultimate Superman comic. Lemme ‘splain… Now, being a dude who is almost completely hung up on continuity and lore, it may come as a surprise that I really… really enjoyed Ultimate Spider-Man when it first hit shelves. It didn’t matter to me that we were getting re-imaginings of many stories we’d already read… it didn’t matter that it only took about three minutes to read an issue (but upwards of a year to finish a story)… it was just good writing and characterization with great art. It also helped matters greatly that the “real” Spidey books (Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Man) were also still coming out every month. With The New-52! and this “Ultimate Superman“, there were no “real” Supes book coming out to lessen the sting… this was now the only Superman we were gonna get… and that sucked.
As a fella who was there (maaaaaaan), I remember anytime any annoyed/hurt DC Comics fan would express their annoyance or disappointment we would get the come-back (from pros, fans, and people who pretend to care about comics alike) of “Those old stories are right there on your shelf… nobody’s taking them from you” which is not only condescending and dismissive… it totally misses the point. Sure, those stories are there… but they no longer matter. There are comics fans (like myself) who need these stories to matter. We’ve spent so much time (and money) investing in these stories, and to be told (in so many words) that they never happened… really sucks. Ya gotta remember, we were told at the onset of The New-52! that these versions were the “onlys”… the pre-Flashpoint stuff never occurred, not even on a parallel Earth… these were it.
As a first issue… it’s not that great. DC really rode the fence here, taking for granted that non-comics readers might not know who all the Daily Planet staffers are… or care about them. This doesn’t feel especially new-reader friendly to me… there’s just too much relying on the past to truly move forward. I know they were bound by this nebulous/ridiculous “five year timeline”, but… I gotta say, if I were new to comics and snagged this… I doubt I’d have any interest in coming back for the next issue. Even as a seasoned fan, the writing is kinda on the wall… it feels like we’re eventually going to get a Lois and Clark relationship… and we’ll go through the motions to get a 21st Century take on Superman’s greatest hits (just like what happened for several Ultimate Spider-Man story arcs). Of course, we’d soon learn that they just had zero idea what to do with Superman.
While I didn’t enjoy this, there are some positives. Up until the gut-punch ending, this could have very much been Superman (vol.1) #715. We open with the all-new Daily Planet/Galaxy acquisition/merger, which… could’ve happened (again) in the pre-Flashpoint world. Morgan Edge’s race-shifting is what it is, but doesn’t need to be addressed… hell, you can throw a “Junior” on the end of his name and everything’d be cool. We learn that Superman has been “away”, which… hell, could’ve been a reference to his Grounded walkabout. This could have very easily been just “the next issue” until the ending. To my mind, that’s a plus.
Also, the art. Jesus Merino is incredibly talented and mixes some great dynamic action with some nice-looking talking heads. I’d say that the art is definitely the high point here. That’s not to say Perez’ writing was poor… not at all, it’s just not the story I wanted to read. I don’t think any writer would be able to make this a story I’d want to read… and I’d wager after this, I’ll never read it again.
Overall… it’s hard for me to give this a recommendation. It’s this story, and those like it that made me go from buying nearly every DC release… to picking up maybe 2-3 comics a month. It may be worth it as a novelty… as it’s interesting to see what kind of story (and what kind of Superman) DC thought would bring the new/lapsed readers flooding in (which they did… for a month or two). This series had the misfortune of standing beside Action Comics Volume 2 (by Grant Morrison/Rags Morales) which was going to give us the new-est origin… much of which, it appears Perez wasn’t privy to. If you absolutely need to read a New-52! Superman book, Action Comics is probably the one you should pick up.
Boy, this was a babbly “review”! Sorry ’bout that!