Mild Mannered Reviews – Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1

Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1

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Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1 (One Shot)

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 28, 2022
Cover date: January 2023

Cover: Dan Mora
Variant Covers: Dan Mora, Travis Moore And Mario “Fox” Foccillo

Reviewed by: James Lantz

REVIEWER’S NOTE: Overall, I’m torn on the format. I like anthologies, but in this case, I had hoped this issue would be one huge conclusion to the “Kal-El Returns” crossover. I came into this cold, as I’ve not been keep up with comics news due to other writing duties and deadlines. However, the overall issue is a good one and merits at least one reading, even with shorts that aren’t tying up loose ends in the main books. Now, let’s look at individual contents.

“The Concert That Ate Gotham”

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Clayton Henry

Gotham City has been attacked by Mister Nobody, who is using unreality to bring madness caused by Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” on the populace. Superman and Batman use the irrational to their advantage, thereby defeating Mister Nobody before a breakfast cooked by Bruce Wayne. Now, all Clark Kent must worry about is helping Bruce with the dishwashing.

5Story – 5: I found this to be one of the most fun stories I’ve read in a long time. Waid’s writing harkens back to his past DC and Marvel work, excluding his X-Men, which was horrible. Yet, the remainder of his comics have been entertaining for me, and so is this one.

3Art – 3: It seems like Clayton Henry could not decide on a consistent style, even on the same page at times. This brings down the quality of the art considerably.

“A Friend, In Need”

Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Dan Haspiel

With Superman back on Earth, Jimmy Olsen is looking for the perfect photograph of the Man of Steel to show the world has hope again with Kal-El’s return. He finds what he’s looking for in the most surprising way possible with Superman seeing Jimmy’s pictures of everyone inspired by Superman to make the world a better place.

5Story – 5: I was surprised by this, as Sina Grace’s work has been hit and miss for me. Some things I have liked, and others have left me disappointed. This story captured the Superman/Jimmy Olsen dynamic perfectly within a brilliant character piece.

1Art – 1: This is perhaps the worst art in this issue, if not the entire “Kal-El Returns” arc. It could work for a humor comic, but it is horrid for a Superman story.


Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Jack Herbert

After Lois and Clark spend a second honeymoon in Venice, Italy, both Supermen – Clark and Jon Kent investigate events that could be connected to Lex Luthor. Distractions seem to send Jon on a wild goose chase. However, he makes Luthor believe that he knows the villain’s true schemes while convincing Lois and Clark to change strategies.

5Story – 5: Like Mark Waid’s story, this one is old school Superman in new school canon. Wolfman especially knows Lex Luthor better than most new writers do.

5Art – 5: The art in this story is the best in this issue. Jack Herbert has the style of Superman’s part of the DC Universe down perfectly.


Writer: Alex Segura
Artist: Fico Ossio

Superman is explaining to Naomi and readers what home is and how the Justice League is such a thing while being part of the word’s concept as a whole. Upon leaving the Hall of Justice the Man of Steel is transported to the events of Justice League #75 and “Dark Crisis”.

4Story – 4: This story merits a perfect score. However, the last panel ruins that. The fact it leads into “Justice League #75” and “Dark Crisis” would not be so bad had both those comics come out at the same time as this. The “Justice League Versus The Legion of Super-Heroes” also suffers in that respect, and as a whole, the current DC Universe feels messed up, like it’s going in circles. “Home” is a lot like those episodes of “Tales of The Unexpected” that are good until the ending ruins the entire thing.

4Art – 4: Much like “Action Comics #1049,” many images look over-inked and too dark. This takes away from a lot of details from the otherwise great art.

4Cover Art – 4: This is perhaps one of the coolest Superman covers in recent years.

4Dan Mora Variant Cover Art – 4: The art isn’t as good as the main cover, but it’s still well done.

5Travis Moore Variant Cover Art – 5: While it may be better suited for a “Son of Kal-El” book, it’s still a beautifully drawn cover.

4Mario “Fox” Foccillo Variant Cover Art – 4: Lex looks more like Marvel’s the Impossible Man than Superman’s greatest foe. The S-Shield lines look slightly too thick.

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