19th Feb2020

‘Superman Heroes #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

superman-heroes-1-cover

When a book proudly proclaims on its cover ‘The future of the DC Universe begins here!’, it’s hard not to pick it up just to see if it’s true or not. Throw in the fact it’s an oversized issue and has an amazing writing lineup in Bendis, Fraction, and Rucka, and I’m in. Actually, they had me at ‘Superman’, but that’s just me. I guess this is essentially a companion piece to last year’s Superman #18 in which, after a great deal of soul searching, Clark decided to reveal his true identity to the world. Rather than divide his life, he wanted to unify it, bring those from Clark’s life together with those from Kal’s life. It was a good idea, and told well. That decision didn’t just come about fully formed though, and this book explores the reasoning behind it, allowing a little more space to flesh things out. Let’s take a look.

We start where we always should, on a certain Kent farm in Smallville, and a young Clark receiving words of wisdom from Pa Kent. Any understanding of Clark should begin and end with his Midwest upbringing, and the solid humanist values he absorbed from Pa and Ma Kent. We then cut to the present, or the day before the big reveal, and Clark seeking advice from wife Lois, the single biggest influence on Clark in his adult life. Lois always talks a good game, and she tells Clark she fully supports his decision. You would think telling your wife about such a monumental decision would be the hardest thing but not for Clark. He’s friends with Batman, remember. Not to forget his Justice League teammates either, of course. The sequence where they put in their opinions is one of the best in the book, especially Plastic Man’s reaction. ‘I fell for it. The glasses’. Love it.

The more personal meet ups are nice too. The meeting with Booster Gold especially good. Booster, of course, is from the future and has known Clark’s identity all the time, and now doesn’t have to pretend anymore. Had never really thought about that before. The tonal shift to Clark’s closest JLA friends, Batman and Wonder Woman, meeting together to talk about Clark’s decision is quite jarring, both story and art wise. In a good way, though, as they debate his decision, and give us a nice little insight into Bruce and Diana too. That fine sequence is followed by perhaps my favourite in the book, when Clark visits his old school teacher Mr. McKay, just to tell him that, despite his powers, he never cheated at school. He was tempted, but never used his powers. You see, upbringing. The Kents. Smallville. It made the man.

A couple of sequences follow that are ok, but I wished the one with Jimmy Olsen had a little more depth to it. Considering how important Jimmy has been to the Superman mythology down the years, his sequence was a little too light and fluffy for me. Clark had dreaded speaking to him, fearing the reaction, but turns out Jimmy had known for a long time anyway. The epilogue is also pure Lois and Clark. Lex has given them information that may lead to a dangerous criminal, who they can put away. It also will put away a business rival for him and possibly ruin The Daily Planet. As always, there is just one decision. Do the right thing. Whatever the cost.

As a Superman fan I really enjoyed this, but I’m not sure if a general comics fan would feel as happy. Although the little character bits and insights were nice to see, not enough was in there to make this feel that essential, and considering the blurb on the cover and the writing talent attached, it may feel a little underwhelming to some. For me, though, I loved it. It highlighted qualities in Clark that make him who he is, and ultimately what sets him apart from the Batman’s of the world. It was heartwarming for a fan like me.

Clark Kent. Kal-El. Superman. Heroes, all of them. This is a nice little reminder.

**** 4/5

Superman Heroes #1 is out now from DC Comics.

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