This is not you Daddy’s Superman… Or wait. Maybe it is? DC Comic’s new limited series Superman: The Coming of the Supermen, by comics legend Neal Adams, has been one of the most hotly anticipated series of the new year. But, as we have seen in the past, a name does not necessarily equate to a masterpiece.
Superman is the most powerful and, usually, most reliable superhero on the planet. But when a boom tube appears in the middle of downtown Metropolis he is nowhere to be found. As a horde of parademons appear in front of a LexCorp building followed by the arrival of Kalibak, the son of space tyrant Darkseid, three questions arise: Why are they attacking LexCorp? Where is Superman? And who the heck are those guys dressed in his uniform?
“In a lengthy interview of my own, I asked Adams what he thought his best work was, and he answered “Batman: Odyssey.” I paused. After some back and forth, I admitted I never made it to the end.” –Dan Greenfield (13th Dimension)
It seems odd to be quoting a review of a completely different book, but bear with me for a second.
The idea that Adams so proudly claimed Odyssey as a “best work” is rather impressive. Odyssey, in of itself, was panned by critics. The book was all over the place and consisted of events that were questionable of a Batman storyline. Though the art was tolerable, many believed it lacked the true talent once demonstrated by the legendary artist.
And now… The Coming of the Supermen.
“The question is, can I read your mind and give you the Superman that you want? [Laughs] When I first did Batman and sort of revolutionized Batman, everybody said, “This is the way Batman ought to be!” They didn’t want him the way that he was depicted in the television show. “Neal Adams has created Batman!” No, I didn’t. It was the same old Batman that everybody forgot. His cape flows, and he goes around at night. He’s Batman. Hello! It’s just that [at the time] nobody seemed to know what Batman was anymore…
“I’m not saying DC Comics has lost their vision of Superman, but he does seem to be flying off the mark in different directions. I liked what Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel did with Superman: Superman!”
Comic Book Resources can really get down to business and Adams has never been one to not answer, in his personal opinion, honestly. In his mind he is giving us the Superman we want and need. A story that will reconnect us to the Superman we loved before.
In so many ways, yes, he has. Adams creates a world that classic comic readers can more easily relate. A Lois Lane so locked in the news that nothing else matters. The playful banter yet obvious and malicious rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor. The simple language and the American-Boy-Scout attitude of Clark Kent’s Superman.
That story, just as it is, is something we have not seen in a while. The every-man Superman. But is that the Superman we need following the lackluster back and forth’s of the DC Comic’s New 52 series? Not exactly. For those who have kept up with Superman yet are having difficulty with the over-powered, super-saiyan-esque, god-like Superman, Coming of the Supermen will be a call-back to a different time. More a breath of fresh air or diversion. Not a necessity. Especially once you get to the storytelling.
Like Odyssey, it jumps from plot point to plot point, creating confusion from the very beginning. Three Supermen arrive on Earth then next thing we know they are trying to assist in stopping a parademon invasion. All while Superman is saving lives in the Middle East. Then, out of the blue, an alien appears and tells him he must temporarily take a child into his personal custody before returning to save the day in Metropolis. Who is this alien? And why is he playing the shy-knight who has “said too much”? And it only gets worse.
Issue #1’s are meant to create questions, build drama and indulge in curiosities. Adams, at least, got the first part correct. There are so many questions. But the problem arises that a six-part miniseries may not be able to clear up the pea-soup-thick-fog.
To divert away from the writing and looking more closely at the art. The cover is phenomenal. Reminding us of the true talent behind the ego that defines Neal Adams. The interiors, for the most part, match up. Classically epic battle scenes. Larger than life characters that explode off the page. If anything, Neal Adams’s images can be just as powerful now as they have ever been. And, though barely mentioned in any solicit, Alex Sinclair’s colors help build the classic drama that Adams is so hoping to recreate.
But the artwork greatly over shadows the story. In many books art can help built stronger interest in a moderately written book. But the action-packed, brightly colored sequences seems to only detract from the plot. If that is even possible. Your eyes lock at one brightly colored point and then dart to the next while the words just seem to fade into the background.
Even with the strange plot jumping, Coming of the Supermen was already on the “collector’s required reading list”. Neal Adams creates beautiful visuals that, do not necessarily support a better written book, are wonderful to read through. Hopefully, when the second issues arrives, set for an in-store release of March 16th, there will be a more defined storyline.
Make sure to stop by your local comics retailer and pick up Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1 (of 6) today.