Review: Superman Special #1

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writers: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mark Russell, Ian Flynn

Artists: Scott Godlewski, Bryan Hitch, Kaare Andrews

 

Summary

“THE PROMISE”! Superman’s world is about to change in a big way, but before it does, the Man of Steel has some unfinished business to attend to…on Dinosaur Island! Superman and a forgotten soldier of the past take one last trip together into the abyss of tomorrow, as Captain Storm now stands face-to-face with the world of today! This extra-sized special also features stories by writers Mark Russell and Ian Flynn with art by Kaare Andrews and Bryan Hitch!

 

Positives

While the recent Superman #45 provided admirable bittersweet farewell to Tomasi and Gleason’s delightful series, the finale left an important thread hanging. So this special allows the creators an encore performance to take care of unfinished business.

Earlier in the series, a trap of Manchester Black’s sent Superman and Superboy to Dinosaur Island, where they met Captain Storm, the sole survivor of the Losers – the rest of his team having fallen prey to the island’s dangers. At the end of the story, Storm sacrifices his chance to escape the island, allowing Clark and Jon to escape. But Superman promised that he would find a way to return and rescue Storm.

Jon has been dwelling on Storm’s sacrifice and reminds his father that they need to return and rescue Capt. Storm. It is good to see that Jon learning to be as caring and responsible as his father. Jon has made a good start towards becoming a worthy eventual successor to his father.

As a fan of Tomasi and Gleason’s series, I was glad at one last chance to see the team return for one last go, although it was a bit disappointing that Gleason didn’t provide the art. Godlewski’s artwork was a worthy substitute, however, and Gleason will continue working on Superman in Action Comics.

The third story is quite good, but seems a bit out-of-place. It focuses on the Atomic Skull, a newly reformed Superman foe. However, the Skull hasn’t figured in Superman, but has appeared in Action Comics. It seems like this was an unused story for Action that was put in this special to round out the page count.

However, it is a very good story. The Atomic Skull is placed in a situation where he could revert to his villainous ways and possibly kill Superman, but instead chooses to help Superman capture one of his old compatriots. However, it is hinted that the Skull still is struggling with his decision to reform.

 

Negatives

I was somewhat less impressed with the second story. It was meant as a heartwarming affirmation of Superman’s dedication to preserving life, but considering the current situation in the Superman books, it rubbed me the wrong way.

In the story, Superman saves a man from a building that is facing imminent collapse. The man begs Superman to return for the only photographs he has of his deceased wife. However, there is also a dog still in the building that needs to be rescued. Superman ultimately has to choose one or the other, and chooses to save the dog over the man’s pictures. The moral being that the man’s photos are only reminders of the past, while the dog is alive, and Superman opts to save a life over treasured possessions.

Now, it is believable that Superman would decide this way, and it is probably the correct decision, but it strikes me that this could be meant as a heavy-handed metaphor aimed at readers of Superman who may be apprehensive about the coming Bendis relaunch of the Superman titles.

Is this story meant to tell us that the stellar Rebirth runs of Action Comics and Superman are now in the past and that we shouldn’t cling to them, but rather embrace Bendis’ new version of the franchise? If so, I find that this strikes a somewhat sour note.

Of course, I could also be reading too much into this and perhaps the story was only meant to be taken at face value.

Now it may be that Bendis’ version will be great, and I hope that it will be, but at the moment, it’s an unproven entity. Whereas, the Rebirth-era books have more than demonstrated their quality. I’m all for giving Bendis a chance, but don’t tell me I need to forget the outgoing teams’ work.

Also, even though Superman made the right choice, I still couldn’t help feeling sorry for the man who lost his precious photographs. What Superman faced was a dilemma, which is a choice where neither option is good. Superman took the better option, but that doesn’t mean that it was right or a good thing for the poor senior to face such a heartbreaking loss. But the ending downplayed this loss and was presented as a happy ending all around

 

Verdict

Overall, I was impressed and my final judgement of the issue is based primarily on the main story.  Where issue #45 served as a fine finale for the series, this special made an excellent encore performance.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.