Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Ivan Reis / DC Comics
One thing you should know about me is that the only thing I like more than a Bendis story is a Bendis story with some David Mack art. So when I learned Mack was doing variant covers for the Bendis Superman titles, I did figurative backflips (literal backflips are difficult). This week brings us Superman #1 by the indomitable Brian Michael Bendis with art by Ivan Reis. There has been a lot of anticipation surrounding this new, Bendis-controlled Superman. On the Bendis-fanatic spectrum (My own camp) we’re ready for the greatest Superman story ever told. On the opposite end they’re dreading the destruction of all that is Superman at the hands of Bendis’ merciless, verbose terror. Full disclosure, I base that entire sentiment on a total of one conversation I had.
The reality lands somewhere between euphoric heavenly bliss and devastating immolation. Superman #1 is going to impress people who enjoyed the relationship-centered focus I remember from much of Peter Tomasi’s stories. Kent deals with the absence of his wife and son in a very relatable fashion. The Justice League members brought in are presented as friends rather than teammates. Bendis captures a characteristically “Incredibles” tone. It isn’t a superhero story as much as it’s a lonely father and husband story where the man cave is the Fortress of Solitude.
The action is not forsaken, though, as Ivan Reis is allowed to create some impressive scenes of heroism. It was fun to watch death-defying acts being used narratively as the equivalent of a character having to take a short phone call during a conversation with a friend. It doesn’t take away from Reis’ impressive action scenes. Superman’s clear level of OP’ness allows for a unique chance to go back and forth between five panels of calm conversation and a full-page action shot without the story feeling at all disjointed. Superman may end up being the perfect fit for relationship and conversation-prone writer like Bendis and an artist who knows their way around poster-quality action scenes.
Reading Superman? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.