Ricky Church reviews Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2…
The biggest change to Superman in recent years is the addition of a young son, Jonathan Kent, to his world as how he adjusts to fatherhood. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have done an excellent job developing the new family dynamic in the Superman title and that continues in Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2, a hefty collection of Superman stories that focus on Superman, Lois and Jon as they discover hidden secrets about their past and new hometown.
This book has a nice variety of Superman stories, ones that deal have a small scale and others that are a bit more epic in scope, tying into some of the big mysteries surrounding DC Rebirth and the dangling threads of the first Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition book. From meeting Swamp Thing to traversing across the multiverse with other Superman and Superwomen to battling some old enemies, there’s a healthy dose of variety for people’s Superman’s taste and Tomasi and Gleason succeed in making each story fairly captivating and cuts to the core of Superman’s traits and his relationship with Jon.
The big stories in this collection are ‘Multiplicity’ and ‘Black Dawn’, two very different types of stories. ‘Multiplicity’ see Tomasi and Gleason dive into the multiverse in an arc clearly influenced by Grant Morrison’s zany ideas. Someone is hunting various Supermen from the multiverse and Superman joins the House of Heroes to stop this from happening. This story features a lot of fan-favourite alternate Supermen, such as the Red Son Superman, Captain Carrot and Morrison’s President Calvin Ellis Superman as well as other alternate Justice League members. It’s a nice collection of different characters and Tomasi and Gleason do a good job channelling the wildness of Morrison’s storytelling.
At the hear of ‘Multiplicity’ is what Superman is about: the willingness to protect the universe and other life no matter the cost. It emphasizes this to a nice degree with the various Supermen and other Justice League Incarnate with a Flash even making a similar sacrifice to Crisis on Infinite Earths in order to defeat the big bad. Tomasi and Gleason also display Superman’s intelligence. People often think he relies on his strength to win the day, but the pair show how smart Superman can be as he thinks steps ahead when he knows his powers will be stripped away. It’s very rewarding to see Superman use his brains over brawn in a way that shows he’s no slouch when his powers are taken away.
‘Black Dawn’, meanwhile, heavily focuses on the Kent family as an enemy from Superman’s past comes back to tear them apart and corrupt Jon. Superman and Jon’s relationship is at the forefront and Tomasi and Gleason again do a great job developing this father/son dynamic and Superman trying to balance both roles as a father and teacher. It also stretches back to the overarching story in the Superman title about the residents of Hamilton county and Jon’s powers, tying up some loose ends and how far back Superman’s old enemy has been planning this. It gives a nice sense of the scope to the ordeal which makes it more than just a simple revenge story, but also one that touches on the nature of family and heroism.
Included as well are a couple one-off tales, such as Superman’s encounter with Swamp Thing and the aftermath of ‘Black Dawn’ where Superman tries teaching Jon more about his powers from Superman Annual #1. Both stories are again good, though the annual tale feels a bit repetitive at times. The book also includes part of Superman Reborn, the Superman and Action Comics crossover that delves into one of the larger mysteries of DC Rebirth (which also feeds into The Oz Effect and Doomsday Clock) and the return of a fan-favourite villain. However, much like the second book of Action Comics, this one only collects the Superman issues of the story so readers here will only get parts one and three. It may leave some readers confused when beginning the next chapter if they haven’t read all of Superman Reborn, especially with the cliffhanger ending of part three with the apparent return of the New 52’s Superman and Lois.
The art throughout the book is well done with a wide range of artists. Gleason, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and more are featured in the book. Most of the varying artists appear in ‘Multiplicity’ with Gleason and Mahnke working on Superman Reborn and ‘Black Dawn’. Some of the styles in ‘Multiplicity’ are different, but still fairly consistent with each other that it doesn’t take you out of the story. Gleason and Mahnke make a nice pair on their issues and do well capturing so many characters together and choreographing the action. Mahnke’s facial expressions are also well detailed in their emotions and reactions while the colours in the whole thing give the book a nice vibrancy.
Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 has something for every Superman fan, from crazy Morrison-esque adventures to focusing on the heart of the Kent family. Tomasi and Gleason’s characterization of Superman, Lois and Jon are the best aspects of the book and find new ways to explore the family dynamic. Any Superman fan will enjoy checking this book out.