Writers: Peter J Tomasi, Patrick Gleason / Artists: Jorge Jimenez / DC Comics
Who knew you could honestly, wholeheartedly adore a Superman series again? In its third issue (fourth including the Rebirth intro), Superman continues to demonstrate one of my favorite aspects of the Rebirth series, which is how close they follow the Convergence formula of combining innovative narratives with key elements of characters’ histories. Here, we are presented with the Fortress of Solitude, Krypto, and the age old backstory of the destruction of Krypton but with new insight into how the pieces fit together. For instance: who was prepared to see, of all throwbacks, the Eradicator?
Created after The Death of Superman, the Eradicator was originally an extremely 90’s (really? “The Visored Superman?”) ploy to fill the void created by offing one of the most recognizable characters in comics. Instead of chucking him into the Villain of the Day role, however, Gleason and Tomasi give us a complex backstory tying the fearsome foe to a desperate attempt to resurrect the home he quite literary bonded with. While Superman has dozens of foils to compare to, I think the best authors know how to capitalize on highlighting differences and similarities rather than merely showcasing another _____ Superman. The Eradicator’s desire to recreate Krypton isn’t terrifying because of malicious intent, but because it’s clearly fueled by the same depth of adoration for the planet that Clark himself holds, and so one can’t help but to feel conflicted about which choices are the best when there are entire populations of different species at stake. Another significant emotional signifier is that in the opening the Eradicator is literally seen playing with Krypto, one of the most loyal and protective dogs — even beings — in the DC Universe. If Krypto trusts the Eradicator then certainly we the reader can and should.
If I had to some up this comic’s strength in one word, I’d have to say “pacing.” The ability to combine backstory, introduce new characters, continue to focus on the emergency that is Jon’s unstable powers, and still support Lois as the strong woman and parent she is without missing a beat illustrates the sort of superior storytelling all of DC Comics should be aspiring to. On the topic of Jon, too, I’m definitely pleased that someone knows how to write believable children rather than creating obnoxious scream machines or cold, unfeeling mini adults. Additionally, while I enjoyed having Mick Gray on interiors previously, the introduction of Jorge Jimenez’s pencils could not have been timed better. It’s strange, because looking through his portfolio his style doesn’t immediately jump out at me as a favorite, but combined with Alejandro Sanchez’s colors the panels become almost painterly at times while still echoing Gray’s wide-eyed, slick characters. Uniting both these strengths produces a comic I found myself easily imagining as an animated film or motion comic in the direction of Red Son. I sincerely hope that this perfect marriage of strengths continues throughout the entirety of the series, finally giving us the new favorite classic Superman story we didn’t think was possible to find again.