Superman: Man of Tomorrow #1
Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 20, 2020
Cover date: April 2020
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Cover: Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey
Reviewed by: Craig Boehmer
The issue opens with a beautiful splash page of Superman holding up rubble, we are told in a caption that he is holding up a tunnel roof. Two kids are then shown talking about how amazing Superman is while watching a giant electronic billboard showing him rescue a tunnel full of cars. A shadowy figure calls for more power and purple electricity breaks the billboard screen as the kids head into a movie theater with their parents.
Lois and Clark are at the Daily Planet while Lois is writing up a story, its late and Clark asks about heading home but Lois wants to finish the story. He decides to go to the office vending machine for supper. They get distracted by a news story that Jimmy is watching about a power malfunction, a surge heads back to the power plant. Purple electricity explodes from the tv screen and the city goes into a black out.
Lois and Clark go to the roof of the Daily Planet where they banter about the expense of all the suits he loses before he flies off to investigate. Lois mentions that she is glad he didn’t wreck his suit tonight, but with Perry and Jimmy arriving on the roof too, Lois has to toss the suit over the side of the building so as not to reveal Clark’s identity. Lois tells Perry that she needs to be on the street covering this event, and Jimmy goes with her.
At the power plant, Parasite is absorbing the energy causing the black out. Superman punches him and promises that if he gives up Superman will help him find a cure. They fight with classic Superman vs bad guy banter going back and forth. The power plant blows up forcing Parasite to leave to find more energy.
Jimmy and Lois are driving downtown while Jimmy complains about Lois’ dangerous driving. Superman shows up prompting Lois to stop, he explains that Parasite caused the blackout. Superman then notices they are surrounded by people. He rallies them with a speech calling them to each help one another so that everyone’s needs are met during the blackout. The citizens begin helping each other while Superman talks to Lois about where Parasite might be. Lois tells him that because the General Hospital is uses Lex Luthor generators they still have power even though the rest of the city is in blackout. Superman flies off to the hospital in the hopes of finding Parasite at the hospital.
Superman interrupts Parasite from draining the hospital and flies him to the moon. Parasite begins to fight Superman, who interrupts him by stating they are on the dark side of the moon and the only source of energy is Superman, but if Parasite drains him of his energy they will both die stranded on the moon. Parasite shrinks from a lack of energy and passes out. Superman again promises to find a cure for him.
The next day Perry is complaining that Lois only turned in a story about people helping each other, rather than the fight between Parasite and Superman. She and Jimmy exit the office and her and Clark talk. Clark asks he what she wants, and she tells him she wishes he could find his suits on sale.
An angry Lex is shown in his office, mad that he didn’t get any press for quickly bringing power back to Metropolis. The issue ends with Lex vowing to show the city who the most powerful man truly is.
Story – 5: Venditti and Pelletier need an ongoing Superman title. I have been reading Superman on and off since the Reign of Doomsday in 2011. In that time Supes has had a lot of rough stretches in the comics. Personally, I enjoyed Morrison’s first story arc in Action Comics and most of Pak’s Action Comics run. Tomasi and Gleason are my gold standard for Superman comics in the modern era, but I still need to read Jurgens’ Rebirth run. I was cautiously excited for Bendis, but would have preferred him to have just one title and let Tomasi and Gleason continue on the other. I have emjoyed the stories that Bendis is telling but I can not get on board with him breaking up the Superfamily by aging Jon and separating Lois and Clark. This story by Venditti and Pelletier shows that they understand the characterization of Lois and Clark. Their interaction is true to who they are, Lois is a driven reporter who is willing to stay up all night to finish her story and Clark is a supportive husband willing to stay up with her. Then on the next page their roles are flipped as Clark flies off to investigate the power outage. The role reversal feels natural though, and totally in line with their characters. Neither are taking a back seat to the other, but both understand that they each have important responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. They are true partners, in sync with each other, and in love. It works extremely well and makes it feel natural that Clark seek out Lois to help him find Parasite, and not someone like Batman or Wonder Woman. The trust and respect are easily visible.
Superman’s fight with Parasite, while bombastic and entertaining, reveals the type of Superman that Venditti wants to write. Superman’s primary motivation is ending the immediate threat to Metropolis, but he does it by out thinking his opponent, not bludgeoning him into submission. His secondary motivation is to find a cure for Parasite because he sees that Parasite is suffering and needs help. Venditti shows that Superman’s defining characteristic in modern comics is his desire to help people in need.
Finally, we get Luthor. I’m torn on Lex’s involvement. One the one hand I love Lex Luthor as a character, both as a villain and as a pseudo hero. Full disclosure, I really liked his arc as a hero and was disappointed at his sudden return to villainy, I feel that that story should have been done in a Lex Luthor maxi series outlining his quest to be as heroic as Superman and realizing that even at his most heroic self, other heroes still didn’t trust him and regular citizens still preferred Superman. On the other hand if Lex is put in the closet for a while, I’m ok with that, we have had a lot of Lex Luthor stories recently and it would be nice to see the comics place a greater emphasis on some of the other villians, like Toyman, Metallo, or Parasite.
Overall, I loved this story, it’s a simple, fun tale of Superman saving the day and I am fully onboard with it.
Art – 5: Paul Pelletier does a fantastic job illustrating this issue. The fact that it only clocks in at seventeen pages probably allows him more time to put greater detail into each panel. His Superman is heroic and powerful without being overly muscle bound. Lois looks beautiful but not hyper sexualized in any way. She looks like a real professional, beautiful, working woman. Clark is drawn in a slightly oversized suit to hide his muscle and yet still looks professional. I appreciate it when Clark gets some love as a character. To me Clark isn’t a mask that Superman wears to blend in, that wouldn’t be true to Ma and Pa Kent’s legacy. Clark Kent is as important a reflection of his identity as the Superman costume is. Parasite is drawn as both terrifying at his full strength and pitiable when drained of energy. The colours are vibrant and warm capturing the feel of Superman’s personality. The fight scenes have a great energy that allows the reader to flow through the different panels and get caught up in the cataclysmic punches, grabs, and bursting flights. The first splash page immediately tells you what kind of Superman comic you’re going to be reading. A modernized classic suit, classic hair, and a Christopher Reeve inspired face. This is Superman helping people and he looks magnificent.
Cover Art – 4: The cover art is nice, but not great. The proportion for Superman’s chest is a little off, and the artist decided not to give Parasite a neck, this is a slightly different design than the one used for Parasite in the book. The Parasite in the book is the better design. The cover shows exactly what is going on, but because this is a digital release and not for a comic rack the cover did not get as much attention as the art inside the issue. This is fine, as a digital you can’t display this comic, and if you aren’t displaying it than I’d much rather have better art inside the issue than on the cover.
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Love that there is a Superman book free of Bendis. Straight up Superman tales with no BS. As for Lex as a hero, do we just let everything he’s ever done just slide so he can go wear a cool cape? While I like the idea that Superman’s ultimate victory with Lex Luthor would be to somehow actually make him see the error of his ways I feel that’s more like something that should be happening at an ending, like the last season of a tv series or something rather than as a current and ongoing state of affairs in… Read more »
I like that Superman used his intelligence to defeat Parasite in this.