Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: John Romita Jr.
Collects Superman #32-39
I’m willing to address the elephant in the room: Superman has struggled to find his footing since The New 52 relaunch. Some stories in the pages of Superman and Action Comics have been pretty good and some not so much. Superman/ Wonder Woman produced some incredible stories, but I consistently found myself satisfied with Smallville Season 11, which obviously took place outside of main DC continuity.
For those looking for a more classic Superman that happens to be within the confines of The New 52, rejoice because this is the book for you. Geoff Johns, who has written such modern Superman classics such as Brainiac and Secret Origin, injects this tome with many elements longtime and new fans should love. He really captures the essence of hope that is Superman. Not only that, he has Clark Kent rejoin the ranks of the Daily Planet after spending some time as a blogger. Clark’s interactions with the likes of Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and the rest of the bull pen are some of the best parts of the book.
Another selling point of this book is that it’s the DC Comics debut of the legendary John Romita Jr. Believe it or not, it’s true. The man synonymous with the likes of Spider-Man and Punisher has finally lent his pencils to the Man of Steel. I must say it’s a solid debut because he rendered some truly dynamic scenes of both the emotional and action packed varieties.
You no doubt noticed that this book is titled “The MEN of Tomorrow.” That’s no error. Superman is joined by Ulysses, whose story parallels Superman’s in several respects. It turns out Ulysses’ parents sent him to another dimension when they feared this Earth may be at risk with hopes he would have a better life. He gains superpowers in the 4th Dimension before returning here. At first it seems like the two are kindred spirits. There’s a rather touching scene in which Superman reunites Ulysses with his birth parents, a privilege that Superman will likely never get to have for himself. They fight side by side for a time, though it turns out Ulysses’ motivations are, of course, sinister. However, he believes he’s doing the right thing. This book is one hell of a study in moral grey area.
This book also sees the introduction of a new power for Superman – the Super Flare. Long story short, it’s an extension of his heat vision that you can see pictured in the featured image at the top of this article. It’s capable of causing a considerable amount of damage and using it depletes Superman’s power for around 24 hours. This happens to be explained to him by Batman. Yes, the Dark Knight makes a cameo, allowing Romita to also draw him for the first time (seen above).
My favorite chapter has to be the concluding one, originally published as Superman #39. Superman reveals that he is actually Clark Kent to his pal, Jimmy Olsen. It’s not just the fact that the character beats between them work so well, it’s also because this happens to be during the time frame Superman has no powers. Seeing him put his life on the line while being mortal was inspiring and displays what I was talking about earlier when it comes to showing quintessential Superman.
Supplemental material includes variant covers and conceptual sketches.
Although it’s not labeled as such, this book is essentially Volume 6 of Superman’s New 52 adventures. Perhaps they omitted the numbering as not to be intimidating to new readers. On that note, this absolutely does work as a jumping on point and as a standalone story. I think DC knew that. As I intimated earlier, this book is a great purchase for any Superman fan, old or new.