Cover date: September 2006
Original Script by: Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Writer: Martin Pasko
Artists: Matt Haley, Mike Collins, Ron Randall
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
In essence, you all likely know the story, so I won't summarize the plot, but instead point out how the story deviates from the film in order to show you how you would benefit or not benefit (by your own reckoning) from buying this:
The opening is the original opening of the film, from before Singer added the opening credit montage from the beginning. You see Superman exploring Krypton's ruins, and his ship, which self-heals. He also sees a sigil of the House of El.
There is a summary scene, per Superman II, and we see images of things that happened in Superman: The Movie. It doesn't indicate if they were re-shot for the film, but likely it would have been archive, as they're all iconic Donner moments.
At home, Ben Hubbard is with Martha, and he's introduced as somewhat of a boyfriend for her.
Martha gives Clark his suit, a scene missing from the film.
Clark's recollection of his youth ends with him discovering the ship in the barn, and an adult Clark also ends there, finding Lois' expose on why the world doesn't need Superman in a stack of newspapers.
Ma Kent tells Clark she's been sending postcards to Lois as Clark.
Ben Hubbard arrives, and Ma Kent reveals that she's dating Ben and they're moving to Montana together. Clark is shocked.
When Lex visits the Fortress, he indicates that he gave Superman a "push" to go to the stars, and when asked why he has Kitty around, he replies that it's the same reason women carry ugly dogs, to feel better about themselves. He calls Jor-El father.
Clark uses x-ray vision in the Ace O' Clubs (shown by name) to see the blackout.
Lex talks with Stanford, who is worried that Superman will find them quickly, and notes that sending him to Krypton's ruins was supposed to kill him. Lex tells him not to worry.
After Lois states she doesn't need Superman, and Jor-El speaks to Superman in his head, Superman sees Jor-El in the clouds (at least in the comic).
On the roof of the bank, Superman ties up the bad guys in the rotors of their helicopter.
Lois gets a message that she misses at the Daily Planet indicating she's supposed to pick up Jason (a rationale not present in the movie for why she's so late).
Superman, when he goes to the Fortress, speaks to his father, and when he finds that he's gone, he screams for him, per Superman II (FATHEEEEEEEEER!)
The scene with the kid and the clown tattooed goon never happens. They're immediately locked into the pantry, and Lex tosses a piece of timed dynamite into their "cell," which Lois tosses down a chute. Richard and then Superman still saves them, but she blows the ship up, not a giant spike. The spike just finishes the job. Notably, Jason is very extricated from this comic, and the scene with the piano is absent.
Also, somehow, the scene where Superman is stabbed and beaten happens as Lois is stuck in the ship somehow. It is later explained that the scene happens AFTER the scene where Superman is stabbed, but it jilts the narrative, whereas in the film it is done in a sensible order. Perhaps for space.
In that scene, Superman melts the camera, whereas he didn't in the film.
Luthor taunts Superman, explaining that he and Stanford leaked the Krypton news to the media, and that the media just didn't fact check and ran it as true.
He stabs Superman in the upper shoulder as opposed to the vitals in the lower back.
Superman flies up into space as opposed to into the sunlight, and less to recharge, more to assess.
In the hospital, they manage to give him epinephrine.
At the Daily Planet, they name the mass "New Krypton" and indicate it has settled into orbit between Mars and Jupiter.
No mention is made of the speech that Superman gives to Jason at the end of the film, though it resolves in much the same way.
Story - 3: Note that this is not a rating of the Superman Returns plot. I'm saving that for the review I've been working on for weeks now, detailing everything I see in the film. Look for that in the next few days.
The plot rating here is for the adaptation. It's crammed, it's missing a lot of the character of the film, it adds in stuff, it takes out stuff, there are a lot of issues. But is it the same essential story? Yes. And is it told well in the number of pages given? Yes. And do I have to factor in that maybe they didn't want certain story points revealed? No, because it was released after the film.
It's a mixed bag.
I give it a three because there's a lot of neat stuff you don't get in the film that was likely cut for time that I really enjoyed. Stanford, and the rationale (very important) for Superman leaving Earth for five years, which I believe he never would have done had he not fully believed Krypton was out there. Ben Hubbard is a nice touch, as is the visit to Krypton. I also like the snippets of dialogue, like Lex Luthor comparing Kitty to an ugly dog that makes him feel better about himself, and the way that he calls Jor-El "father" in mockery. I don't like Martha selling the farm, but it's not so bad, and it makes sense with the Ben Hubbard direction. And besides, technically, it didn't happen.
All in all, neat new stuff.
Note: There were two additions released. Superman Returns: The Comic Adaptation purely had the story reviewed here. A similar edition was also released at the same time called Superman Returns: The Movie and Other Tales of the Man of Steel. Did this second edition need to be released, packaged with backup stories? No. And I have no idea why they did. It raises the price to an annoyingly expensive thirteen bucks, and it doesn't really add that much. They're GREAT stories, the ones they chose, with the exception of the whiney, annoying Lois scene from Birthright. It has a personal favorite by Immonen and Millar, where they pointedly acknowledge for the first time in several years (per 1992-1998, where the Lex-Lois-Clark-Superman love triangle was forgotten, as it is now SINCE this issue) the way that Lex is a bit of a villain toward the Daily Planet people specifically and Lois in particular because she turned down his marriage proposal and took Superman and Clark.
If you want little details about the story you missed, and deleted stuff, and some stories you might not know if you JUST got into Superman in the last two years, buy this book (though there are better retrospectives).
If you want a dynamic, decompressed retelling of the movie, don't buy this.
Art - 5: Top to bottom, for all of the stories chosen, the art is really great. The Superman Returns adaptation really captures the spirit of every scene in the movie, and is to be commended for that. The backup stories also have incredible art, and just generally, every page pops, and beg for the format, even if the story doesn't really make it sensible. Very pretty to look at on all fronts.
Cover Art - 5: I've loved this poster since I first saw it, and I'm going to frame the copy that's on the way. Hands-down, that's just an iconic image of Supes, and I love it.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2006.