Of the two Superman comics I tried in DC’s Rebirth initiative, I enjoyed Superman 1 far more than Action Comics 957. While Action Comics started off alright, most of it felt like a standard superhero comic with nothing special going on. Superman 1 on the other hand felt like a family drama first and a superhero comic second, and the drama is really good. It’s about Jon, Clark and Lois’s son, as his own powers are starting to develop. Since this comic credits Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason as the storytellers and I’m not sure who writes and draws Superman 2, I’ll just credit them both here.
Superman 2 begins some time after the first issue ended, with Superman taking Jon away from their country home after a brief encounter with Batman and Wonder Woman in the shadows. It was shown from Jon’s perspective, turning it into a genuinely creepy moment that lead directly into the opening lines of dialogue in this issue. Jon is scared that Superman is turning him into the Justice League, but if anything, Superman is taking him to watch him save a submarine trapped in the ice with a broken propeller.
When a giant squid attacks, Superman ends up asking Jon to help with his heat vision, leading to a great teaching moment between father and son, even if Jon lacks control and burns Superman’s back in the process. The rest of this comic is just as dramatic as the first issue. Clark and Lois discuss how they plan to deal with Jon’s developing powers, while Jon speaks with Kathy, a young neighbor who witnessed his heat vision accident in the first issue. These are all nicely written moments that allow these characters to just be people. Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say there’s another accident, followed by a teaser for a major character that tends to alternate between superhero and supervillain.
The art is great. There are a lot of close-ups on characters’ faces throughout the issue, with great use of facial expressions. When Jon asks about the Justice League, he looks terrified, and even after Jon’s uncontrolled blast burns Superman’s back, Superman still smiles and encourages his son to try again. The Cyborg octopus looks awesome with the glowing lights on its tentacles, and the clear night sky in the background after the fight is beautiful. There’s a lot of background detail in the scenes taking place in Superman’s country home, whether it’s the long, brown grass, the trees in the background or the first aid kit laid out on the pillow as Lois attends to Clark’s burnt back. The colouring by John Kalisz is also great. The opening scene with the submarine is very colourful with a great sense of contrast, while the overall orange tint back home enhances the calm feeling in the more dramatic scenes.
After the mess DC made of Superman during the New 52, it’s not only great to see a good Superman comic again, but to take the series in a direction that is full of potential. Even though this issue has a lot more superhero action than the first, it’s still very much focused on Clark, Lois and Jon as both individual characters and as a family. Superman fans should at least read the first two issues.