Many of my friend reviewers seem to have disliked this particular volume of Superman and to an extent I understand why. At first I found this a slow, mediocre and dull version of Superman. At least for the first 20 or so pages. Then I caught on to where the story was headed, what it was doing and why it was performing that way. I was drawn into the story and as a result ended up appreciating it enough to grant it my typical decent superhero score: 4 stars.
As part of the New 52 range the way in which Superman - such an iconic character - was relaunched, appealed to me. Compared to Batman, Green Lantern, Aquaman or Flash; Superman never fully caught me as a younger reader. It was cool that he had all the powers he had but he was too powerful. Then there was the fact that his Clark Kent alter ego was so easy to pick up that you had to wonder what game Lois Lane was always playing. Fortunately for me, recent graphic novels and movies have addressed these issues and Superman has leapt up the tall building of my favourite superhero characters.
I once tried watching some of the Smallville television series. I'm sorry to say to any fans of the show that it didn't draw me in unlike other shows I've been and have watched. But I do believe the show got something incredibly right about the Superman character. They showed to the viewers that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same. In the past writers and artists have always focused on the fact that Clark Kent was the other personality of Superman but I believe now that to do so is an error. And I believe that showing both characters as the same individual is something done very well here by Perez and his team.
The new costume for Superman to usher in the new age of DC is a beautifully designed thing. Gone are the 'campy' elements of the suit - the um...famed 'undies on the outside' design. Instead Superman now has a onesie to wear. Okay, it's really a unitard or a skin-tight body suit but whatever... The important thing is that it looks solid and modern, a suit designed for action and combat.
Speaking of action the artwork in this volume is amazing, especially when action scenes are happening. I particularly loved the images like this:
You have to admire the way the artists made his cape swirl dramatically in the picture and how he seems to stand upon the very air. It is...godlike, it is superhuman and it is very much the image of Superman.
The plot of this story all centres around Superman and what it is for him to be an alien among men. Superman really is the symbol and representation of all who feel uniquely talented among humanity and yet at the same time are bound by being a Clark Kent type of person. At the same time the plot also follows Lois Lane and the Daily Planet staff as they adjust to living and moving into the new age of a more digital news medium. Superman comes under attack from three unique alien menaces. A being of fire that turns anything into fire, a being that Superman cannot sense and a being that turns everything into ice. There are therefore three battles, culminating in a final battle which focuses around the idea that Superman could potentially be a weapon of mass destruction feared by those he is bound to save.
On the whole a solid and beautiful comic volume that starts slowly and awkwardly but finishes well enough. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume of this tale when I can find it. Although [b:Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel|13227314|Action Comics, Vol. 1 Superman and the Men of Steel|Grant Morrison|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358399222s/13227314.jpg|18419110] appeals to me more at the moment...