Cover art by Gary Frank & Brad Anderson, or Eduardo Risso & Trish Mulvihill
I love Superman. He’s just a great character, yet sometimes he seems to be taken for granted creatively. This anniversary issue, it seems to do that a little bit. Sure, Lois and Clark will work out their issues, and it’s nice to see Superman helping Robin, but a little more effort given to delivering these stories in a surprising manner would make for a much more memorable comic book.
Written by James Robinson
Illustrated by Bernard Chang
Colored by Blond
Lettered by John J. Hill
Yeah, it’s nice to see Lois and Clark reconciled after his year-long adventure on New Krypton. “I can’t stop kissing you” is a good line, and the final page is a beaut – but it’s a little long in the tooth, with eight pages devoted to Lois and Clark’s mostly predictable reunion. There’s really nothing in this story that hasn’t been done a thousand times before. The script is passable, and the art a hair below. While the page of Superman punching Parasite through several stack of equipment is laid out nicely, the very next panel on the very next page is confusing.
Written & laid out by Dan Jurgens
Finished by Norm Rapmund
Colored by Pete Pantazis
Lettered by John J. Hill
Dan Jurgens returns to Superman for a charming little “early days” story with Superman venturing out to Gotham to save Robin’s hash. The story features a cute wrap-up and solid art, but no particular insights into Superman here.
“Grounded prologue: The Slap Heard ‘Round the World”
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Penciled by Eddy Barrows
Inked by J.P. Mayer
Colored by Rod Reis
Lettered by John J. Hill
The set-up for the next year’s worth of Superman stories, and it’s hard to tell what to expect from this. It feels somewhat emotionally flat. You can recognize Superman’s feelings, but the delivery comes off trite. Barrows and Mayer’s art does a passable job handling the emotional range, and Reis does a great job on the pastoral outdoor scene prior to the Flash’s arrival. There’s promise here, but it’s too early to guess how much will be unearthed.
Previews of Action Comics, Supergirl and Superboy offer your basic teases, villains, crossovers, guest-stars. None of the three offer much in the way of surprises (the last graph of Sterling Gates’ page gives a suggestion that he’s really thinking about develop Kara beyond the action sets, so that’s promising), and the five-page preview of Action Comics is your run-of-the-mill Lex Luthor smug evilness. Ooh, look, Lex fires a guy for telling Lex what he doesn’t want to hear, and then wants him killed for reacting poorly – yeah, I’ve seen that one before.
Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Written by Paul Levitz
Penciled by Yildiray Cinar & Francis Portela
Inked by Wayne Faucher & Portela
Colored by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
In the first issue of the series, Paul Levitz seemed to dip his toes into the water slowly, focusing on a few central characters and bringing readers into the 31st century gradually. An issue later, we’re right into the thick of it, and Levitz’s script actually feels more comfortably and more assured as the cast expands and the subplots mount.
The aftermath of Titan’s destruction dominates the issue, with Levitz balancing some action (clean-up work by the powerhouse members) and the big cultural themes (bigotry against the surviving Titans). The Earth Man plot builds organically, with the tension between the various Legionnaires and their new colleague playing out effectively without being too heavy-handed. It’s nice to see a superhero comic book dealing intelligently with the aftermath of major tragedies, and perhaps its due to the increase in graphic tragedies over the last ten years – but it seems very rare to see the cultural and personal effects of a major trauma unfold in this manner.
Saturn Queen’s effects on Ultra Boy seem arbitrary, an effort to introduce some action into the script, but it’s early and we’ll see if more comes from it. Already Levitz has had Brainiac 5 address one of my concerns with issue one, noting the unlikelihood of Titan’s explosion.
Only the second issue and already DC’s needed a co-artist (Francis Portela) to complement Yildiray Cinar and Wayne Faucher, though the effect isn’t as jarring as it might’ve been. The two styles are complimentary, as both offer solid, exaggerated superhero-style illustrations, though Portela’s layouts are slightly clearer.
But Legion remains Paul Levitz’s show, and the tension of Earth Man’s induction to the Legion, the intrigue of Graym and Garridan Ranzz’s disappearance, and the emotional honestly of Garth and Ayla’s reactions to the children’s abduction – it all rings true and human. Now if only they could come up with a few better costumes for the ladies on the team…
Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents Superman Team-ups
Written & Illustrated by more than I care to list
This book, a 500-some page collection of the first 26 issues of DC Comics Presents, the Superman team-up title that ran from 1978 to 1986, essentially defines the concept of “for fans only.”
In each issue, excepting the two-part opener, featuring The Flash in successive chapters, Superman teams with another character from DC Comics’ expansive pantheon. Early stories suffer from the comic book gobbledyscience that prevented me from reading many comics as a child, but the series quickly settles into a heavily plot-driven style with narratives that occasionally require an extreme leap of disbelief, but at least make sense internally. For the most part.
Professional scripts from creators like Paul Levitz, Denny O’Neil and Steve Englehart, among others, create a scenario, mix in the guest-star in expected fashion, and culminate in a workable finale. Joe Staton, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Dillin are among the artists providing solid illustrations throughout, though many of the pages are clearly designed for color and lack that in this cheap edition.
Nothing’s particularly wrong with most of the stories in Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents Superman Team-ups, but unless – like me – you’ve some innate fondness for Superman or several of his costars, this book isn’t the first I’d recommend either.