Ricky Church reviews Superman Reborn…
The past few years have seen Superman’s status in the DC universe complicated to say the least as the company rebooted the line in The New 52 with the original Superman and New 52 Superman briefly coexisted until the death of New 52 Superman. With the start of DC Rebirth, the original Superman has resumed his superhero ways with help from his wife Lois and their young son, Jon, but with an additional mystery: there is a separate and normal Clark Kent working in the Daily Planet whose motives and origins are unknown.
Superman Reborn is the first crossover between Superman and Action Comics and delves into the mystery of this other Clark Kent as well as what apparently happened to Superman when New 52 was created. Written by Dan Jurgens and Peter Tomasi, the book (which collects Actions Comics #973 – 976 and Superman #18-19) tells a fun and compelling tale of the mysterious new threat in Superman’s life as well as celebrating the character’s long legacy and what he stands for.
Jurgens and Tomasi write a very good portrayal of Superman and Lois, capturing their relationship and family dynamic as they raise their son. Jurgens’ portrayal of Lois in the first two chapters, which lead into ‘Superman Reborn’, is great as Lois is out on a case and trying to discover more about the other Clark Kent. Jurgens’ also makes this other Clark quite creepy, even when he’s acting like the typical goofball people expect from Clark Kent. The reveal of who exactly this Clark is is a great one that doesn’t feel obvious or like it came out of nowhere.
There’s not much action to this story, but that’s also where Superman Reborn excels. This is a much more family-driven affair as Superman and Lois race to save Jon from the hands of the villain. Jurgens and Tomasi pack a fair bit emotion into it for Superman as even Lois is threatened, but in a completely different way than Jon is as she begins forgetting their son and her marriage to Clark. There is one awkward moment, though, where Superman and Lois enter a ‘game’ to rescue Jon, but suddenly after a couple pages they are out. The caveat to that is a nice two-page spread by Patrick Gleason that show the game board and various bits of Superman’s history.
The art throughout the book is great. Patrick Zircher and Stephen Segovia do the introductory chapters while Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke deal with the ‘Reborn’ story, alternating chapters between the Superman and Action Comics issues. Some of the book’s best imagery comes from Action Comic #975, the celebratory chapter for the landmark issue that sees Mahnke at his best as he goes through a whirlwind of Superman’s greatest enemies.
Included also is the back-up to #975 written by the legendary Paul Dini with art by Ian Churchill. This is a fun little story that delves into the villain’s motivations, adding a bit of sympathy to him while feeding into the larger mystery of DC Rebirth. Dini captures the essence of the character while Churchill does a good job depicting the various states he goes through, even giving him an imposing presence while also honouring many of the other artists from Superman’s history, including a nice nod to Superman: The Animated Series.
Superman Reborn also has a small collection of the variant covers and some unused designs for Superman’s ‘new’ suit. One of the nice bonuses is seeing how the covers for the story all combined with each other, particular Gary Frank’s amazing and detailed work. Overall, Jurgens and Tomasi told a compelling and heartfelt story about the Kent family with some very nice art from Gleason and Mahnke on how DC’s most important family persevere through the toughest of times while echoing the long legacy of the Man of Steel.