By Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jay Fabok, Alex Sinclair & Cory Petit
Brian Michael Bendis’ brand new mini-series heralds his arrival at DC Comics is a strong opening. It lays the foundations for a Superman story with the potential to become a modern classic. Instantly it’s clear that Bendis gets the character, what makes him Superman-it’s almost like he’s been writing him for years. The dialogue between Superman and the criminals that he interacts with is fun, especially considering the comparisons to Batman and how he operates.
The script re-introduces us to classic characters in familiar yet fresh new ways. Bendis’ story about Superman saving people from a fire is simple on the surface, but especially as the first few pages hint, Bendis is just getting started. Superman is front and centre of the series where he should be, and whilst the first issue is a slow-burner, it’s promising. The book opens by revealing the antagonist, Zaar, and his motivations. It also instantly establishes him as a credible threat whether or not you’ve read Action Comics #1000 where he was introduced. The book also introduces a new supporting character in the form of a young female firefighter, who could potentially develop into a love interest for Superman if something were to happen to Lois Lane.
Hopefully Bendis stays clear of that to help craft the character’s own unique identity rather than just being another love interest for The Man of Steel. But introducing a couple of new players to the supporting cast shakes things up from the traditional characters that we’ve spent plenty of time with and allows for new stories to be told with them.
The artwork is sensational and really stands out. Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on pencils and inks respectively both bring their A-Game to the table. Whilst it’s somewhat of a worrying sign that Jay Fabok has to step in to cover a couple of pages already, Reis and Prado’s artwork is among DC’s best. It helps add a human, emotional depth to Superman that defines his character really well, and it’s clear that Bendis is going for a more human approach to Clark Kent. There are several stunning pages, whether we’re focusing on Superman himself or him using his powers to help put out a fire, that really make it clear that the audience is in for something special.
This is helped by Alex Sinclair’s colours, which put an added emphasis on the importance of the city of Metropolis itself, really helping it feel like a key player in the book as the city is brought to life. It almost feels like another character in its own right, and it will be a real treat to see Bendis fleshing out the city as much of the characters themselves going forward. Cory Petit’s letters too, are good putting an added emphasis on Zaar’s dialogue to help him seem all the more menacing and intimidating.
If you’re a fan of Superman, you need to be reading The Man of Steel. It’s a very impressive start from former Marvel heavyweight Brian Michael Bendis that stands out from the rest of the crowd.