Mild Mannered Reviews – The Man of Steel #1

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The Man of Steel #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 30, 2018

Cover date: July 2018

“Man of Steel” – Part 1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ivan Reis (and Jason Fabok)
Inker: Joe Prado
Cover: Ivan Reis

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Our story begins, years ago, Rogol Zaar speaks with “The Circle”, of the evils that the Kryptonians pose to the universe, and how he suggests that they all be eradicated.

We cut to the present in Metropolis as the villain Firefly is hiding out, and is confronted by Killer Moth, looking for his cut of the money. Firefly warns him repeatedly that “He listens for yelling”, and before they can think twice, they are swooped away by Superman, and taken to the authorities.

Later Superman hovers above Metropolis, listening to the sounds of the city, when he comes across people in peril. He flies down to a burning building and rescues those that are trapped by the blaze, he then at the request of the fire marshal puts out the fire. Upon inspecting the rubble, he meets with the new deputy fire chief, Melody Moore. They both discuss the possible origin of the fire, and Superman assures her, his friend Clark Kent will help look into the recent tenement fires throughout the city.

We cut back to years ago, on a distant alien world, where Rogol Zaar is fighting a native beast, managing to kill it. He is visited by one of the Guardians of the Universe, Appa Ali Apsa. Appa informs Rogol that he and the circle took into consideration his pleas regarding the Kryptonians and they all decided not to take any action against them, and their fate is their own. Rogol is none too pleased with this decision.

In the present, Superman flies back to the Daily Planet where, as Clark Kent, he is greeted by Perry and asked about what story he is working on. Clark tells him of the recent arson around the city, and gets back to work. He looks at his desk, and sees the photo of Lois and Jon, and starts to think back…

In a flashback we see Jon is complaining about having grown too big for his Superboy sweatshirt he uses for his super heroics. Lois is on the phone in the kitchen, playfully mocking their son. Clark asks about the story she is working on, when a bright light hits them. The last words we hear are “Dad what is…? Oh!” and Lois saying, “Clark…”

To be continued…

5Story – 5: Let me start by saying, this series is certainly not a reboot, or a relaunch… If I were to call it anything, I would call it a Pilot. A Pilot to what will most likely be referred to as the Bendis era. I read in an interview years ago, that in 1986, John Byrne was willing to jump onto the Superman books and work within the then current continuity, but it was the decision of the editorial team for a full reboot. It seems that Bendis may be taking that approach to his run on the character.

With that said, this was a great first issue by Bendis. We follow the narrative on three different timelines throughout the issue, from years ago before the destruction of Krypton, to the present, and left on a cliffhanger of some event that happened not so long ago, regarding Clark’s family.

I’ll admit, I felt great trepidation about Bendis coming on board to the Super titles. Especially since the books have been so great as of late in the Rebirth/Reborn era. But Bendis did a great job on his first issue. Superman still felt as Superman should, he saved those in trouble, and bought those to justice that needed to be. Bendis didn’t over power the issue or the character with any ego or overly heavy dialogue or exposition.

I especially loved how courteous he was to the new deputy fire chief melody Moore, leaving her in awe, as he flew off. She is a character I feel we will be seeing a little more of in the near future. I loved the little joke of Superman saying that Batman is the one that usually drops the bad guys, when he flies Firefly and Killer Moth to the authorities. Also loved the attention to detail, how Superman listens out for yelling and certain words, while he is on patrol. This makes the super-hearing powers a little more understandable, seeing as how he simply can’t turn his hearing off. Also loved the way Bendis wrote the line “language please” as Superman tells the little girl he saves when she says him and says, “Holy $#!+”. A simple request with a smile on his face.

The Rogol Zaar plot, of him being involved in the destruction of Krypton so far has yet to be played out fully, but I am liking what he has done with it in just one issue. Simply put, he left me wanting more. There is a definite passing similarity to the Earth One graphic novel by J. Michael Straczynski, where a character named Tyrell was responsible for the destruction of Krypton. I have no doubt that Bendis will write something completely different, and write it well, but I did feel like I needed to mention it.

The other big question is what happened to Lois and Jon. I know many members of the Homepage were a little worried about what Bendis has planned for them, mainly if he will be dissolving the family dynamic. In interviews he has stated that he doesn’t plan to do anything of the sort, but to expand upon it. As I stated before, he left me wanting more, so I am looking forward to seeing what the particular light was, and what did it do to the Kent family. Again, I was reminded of a past Superman story when reading this, namely Superman: For Tomorrow, where the event “the vanishing” took Lois, and Superman had a hard time coping in the aftermath.

As a life long Superman fan, I couldn’t ask for anything more in a Superman comic. Bendis treated the character with respect, and kept his word that Superman would be portrayed as he should, beloved amongst his family and friends, and respected by everyone else. All in all, good well written issue, with making me look forward to the next one.

5Art – 5: Ivan Reis on art duties, an instant 5/5 in my book. It was good to see him return to Superman, especially after so many years, where his art has matured and become even better than when he first worked on Superman in the mid 2000s.

I was a little disappointed when I learned that he would only do one issue of this miniseries, and that each issue would feature a different artist. I am not a fan of multiple artists drawing a single series, as I feel the shift in art styles take me out of the story at times. However, editorial team has lined up some of the best artists at DC, so I can’t complain.

The highlight for me was seeing Superman looking so regal once again, in his iconic/classic look with the trunks. Even though I liked the “Reborn” suit, with the stylized belt, seeing the suit as it is felt exciting. Reis always drew the suit well, and made it look awesome, so this issue was no exception to that. Also loved the way he rendered Clark, with the slicked back hair and the horn rimmed glasses. Jimmy and Perry looked updated but still had the classic feel to them as well. Other characters such as the little girl he saves holding the puppies and Melody Moore, had a lot of character to their faces and expressions. The flying scenes looked epic, I think any artist tackling Superman needs to be able to have at least one epic pose for flying.

Rogol Zaar I think was designed by Jim Lee, but Reis manages to bring him to life rather well. He has a passing resemblance to the Marvel villain Terrax, but as I mentioned above, Reis manages to do wonders with the facial expressions.

It is a little sad to see Reis not do the rest of the series, but we will be treated to some awesome talented artists in the issues to come, and Reis knocked this first issue right out of the park.

Jason Fabok handled the last 2 pages of this issue, and the art seemed so seamless, that I almost didn’t realize the change in artists at first. Why Fabok did the last couple pages, I have no idea, but his pages seem to integrate well with the rest of the issue.

The coloring is always top notch when Alex Sinclair takes on the duties. I read this issue digitally, and the screen made the page look very vibrant. Really hope that he continues with the rest of the series. Loved that the flashback scene of the Kent’s home, had a very warm sepia feel.

Lastly the trade dress, or rather the typeface used for this series. It’s directly lifted from the 1986 mini-series of the same name, by John Byrne. Was a nice little nostalgic feel.

5Cover Art – 5: Ivan Reis is doing all the covers for this series, and they will form one big image. We have seen this for many months already, but still, it looks amazing, and deserves a perfect grade. Even though the Justice League were not present at all through the issue.

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May 31, 2018 3:44 am

I hope Bendis proves us wrong as we were when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman.

Kal L
Kal L(@kal-l-2)
May 31, 2018 6:12 am

Rogol Zaar as a villain better pay off. His intro in Action #1000 was basically a slug fest. So here we actually get him fleshed out a little. And yup, he does look like Terrax a little.

Also liked this idea of the Circle. Who’d have thought, Bendis knows his DC stuff! Though it reminded me of the Quintessence from Kingdom Come.

May 31, 2018 11:56 am

Pretty sure Melody Moore is going to be some sort of new love interest. I could be wrong, but the double M name, the red hair, the flirtation and the possible estrangement of clark and lois following something happening to Jon all came off as clues to me.

June 1, 2018 12:22 am
Reply to  sundevil82

I thought it was Lana at first

May 31, 2018 12:37 pm

“the possible estrangement of clark and lois following something happening to Jon.”

That could be the deal breaker for me right there.

May 31, 2018 2:45 pm

I was surprised by how much I liked this issue. I had my doubts, given Bendis, and seeing as how we were losing Jurgens and Tomasi. But this was very good, and I really liked the family dynamic between the Kents at the end. I hope Bendis is just clearing the board for a minute so he can get his footing on the character-proper, bringing in Lois and Jon later. As for Rogol Zaar, I’m not a big fan of the idea that someONE was responsible for Krypton’s destruction. That’s up there with the Joker killing Thomas and Martha Wayne.… Read more »

May 31, 2018 11:54 pm
Reply to  s-shield

“I hope Bendis is just clearing the board for a minute so he can get his footing on the character-proper, bringing in Lois and Jon later.”

So he’s gotta make us slog through an estrangement period and a possible dalliance just to get his feet wet?

June 1, 2018 3:27 pm
Reply to  MattComics

You’d have to ask him, not me, lol. They’re gone, period. My hope is that they aren’t gone long.

May 31, 2018 3:13 pm

I started collecting Superman Comics again because of the Clark-Jon-Lois family dynamic and I won’t be buying again until it’s back. A new love interest for Clark? Not on my watch. Peace out Bendis, why ruin a good thing?

Kal L
Kal L(@kal-l-2)
May 31, 2018 9:32 pm

In the DC Nation preview, Perry stated that Lois left to go work at a rival publication or something. We haven’t actually seen Clark at home in the present, just the flashback. Doesn’t really answer in regards to Lois whereabouts, but I do hope that and Clark are still married.

May 31, 2018 11:53 pm
Reply to  Kal L

I reread both DC Nation and Action #1000, and there are rumors, but that one character said that Lois is MIA and no one knows where she is. What I got was that Lois (and Jon) are either on the run, or off planet and Superman doesn’t know where, or based on the Superman mythos, maybe in the Phantom Zone. I think it has to be the second one, because if it was the first or third, Clark wouldn’t feel so disheartening. Because on the run, he could easily go to her because he knows where she is; in the… Read more »

Kal L
Kal L(@kal-l-2)
June 1, 2018 2:16 am
Reply to  Nate1986

That’s a great theory. I agree with what you said, if it does play out that way.

I had a thought that Clark may be under some sort of a blackmail situation, where the lives of Lois and Jon may be at stake.
But I like your theory better.

June 1, 2018 12:21 am

I hope the spit curl isn’t gone. Superman barely had it in this issue. When I first saw the movie Man of Steel I thought the no trunks would take me out of the story, but it wasn’t too bad ( I do prefer the trunks though). What took me out of the movie (and all sequels) is that Cavil doesn’t be have the spit curl as Superman. I can’t stand it. I don’t know why. So please DC, don’t loose the spit curl!!!

June 1, 2018 7:16 pm
Reply to  roy-el

Curl is still there. Ivan Reis handles it much the same way Byrne and Jurgens do where when he’s Superman he wears his hair loose (which makes sense because which persona is more likely to be wind blown anyway? The guy who flies or the guy sitting at a keyboard in the Daily Planet?) Superman’s hair just naturally waves into an S like shape rather than being a curl glued into place. As Clark he wears it all slicked back which ads to making his looks different.

June 1, 2018 3:02 am

Loved all the character moments in this issue. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, great characterization has always been one of bendis’s greatest assets.
Whether or not the story lives up to the hype is a different matter. We’ll see.
Also, I don’t understand why everyone is so worked up about Melody. The comics have introduced new female characters who were attracted and flirted with Superman before (Lupe Leocadio, Lori Lemaris, Maxima, etc.). Doesn’t mean they’re hooking up.

June 1, 2018 9:03 am

Don’t get me wrong there are many things that I liked about the issue, the art especially. I also enjoyed the scene with Melody.

But this whole thing with Lois and Jon being gone puts me somewhere between wanting to know what happens next and asking “Ok DC. What. Did. You. Do?”

Whether it’s breaking them up so that they can write Superman as a single dude again (which really you could just have a separate title out of continuity or in the past) or pulling some “One More Day” type thing on the family we’ve enjoyed since Rebirth began.

June 3, 2018 10:17 pm

“I felt great trepidation about Bendis coming on board to the Super titles. Especially since the books have been so great as of late in the Rebirth/Reborn era.” I still have great trepidation and really, really hope Bendis doesn’t tear down everything Dan Jurgens did to bring back the Superman and Lois we all know and love. And made it work as them being parents too. But after the short story in DC Nation #0 and at the end off issue #1 it doesn’t look good, even he brings Lois back, which be in question after the end issue one,… Read more »