Superman Rebirth #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciler: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza
Publisher: DC Comics
One of the most difficult things about reviewing anything is separating your expectations from what is delivered. You want to be fair to the piece of art that you are reviewing, and reviewing a comic book based on ‘not meeting your expectations’ isn’t fair to anyone involved. That said, there’s no way to deny that what you wanted isn’t going to color your view of the book. Which brings us to Superman Rebirth #1. Simply put, I did not enjoy the comic on my first read through because it did not meet my expectations. Thus I went back to reread it without thinking about what I wanted. While still not a mindblowing piece of art, Superman Rebirth #1 is a competently told introduction to DC’s most prominent Kryptonian making himself at home in the new universe.
Superman Rebirth #1 is a perfect example of how decompression can happen on a micro level as it stretched out a story that could have been told in half an issue into a full issue’s length. In a microcosm it sets out to show why the New 52 Superman has no chance of coming back to life. During the course of the issue there is an unnecessarily long and pointless summary of the Death of Superman storyline that could easily have been told in a single page. Every segment, aside from the very end, could have been condensed to make for a better paced issue. This drawn out story makes it all the more frustrating for what we don’t see happen in the issue because if the team had chosen to condense those segments, they could have sped things up and told more of the story.
That’s not to say that the issue is all bad, as the artwork is competent and the writers understand both Clark and Lana Lang well enough to make them sound and act in ways that are dutifully recognizable. Saying that the art is competent isn’t an insult because it does a good job of telling the story in a clear, concise way. During the recap of Superman’s death in the 1990s, for example, a reader could follow along with the panels and have a good idea of what is going on even without Clark’s narration. Furthermore, there’s something comforting about Clark’s supreme confidence that the New 52’s Superman will come back to life even though, and I don’t believe this is spoiling anything, it is revealed that it will not happen. Lana’s motivations make sense and you get the feeling of how awkward it is for her to see a version of Clark that isn’t her version of Clark. It’s good stuff.
Skip It. Superman Rebirth #1 is a fully skippable issue that tells a story that could be recapped in a couple of pages stretched out into a full issue. It has some good character moments, but the bad far outweighs the good. Hopefully with the introduction out of the way, the writer can get on with actually telling the story of Superman the way he wants to without having to fill future issues with so much fluff.