It’s not quite the Superman that most of us grew up with, but DC certainly seems to want a modernized the Man of Steel in New 52’s Superman #1.
The action in Superman #1 takes place when Clark/Superman is already established in Metropolis but during the early period of the character’s interactions there. Superman is growing into his powers and has staked his claim over the city while Clark’s feelings for Lois leave him torn and conflicted. Clark is upset that the ‘Planet’ has sold-out to a media conglomerate and his feelings about it place him at odds with Lois, who views the sale as a blessing. Clark’s anger and resentment spill over into his activity as Superman and the hero mourns the loss of the old paper. In the midst of these events, an alien invader shows up uninvited and tests the new hero’s capabilities.
There is a lot of dialogue in Superman #1, used mostly to explain certain scenes and characters’ actions. While this provides greater context and adds to the narrative it can be distracting and unnecessary at times. Certain actions are explained when no explanation or motivation is needed, the reader can decipher quite easily what happens in many instances. Nevertheless, the added dialogue does further the story but might be best when employed sparingly.
The characters are very well written, especially Lois. She is allowed to showcase all her feistiness, intelligence and intrigue while Clark is portrayed as a sympathetic figure who grabs our attention with his deep passion for truth, objectivity, and passion towards his job as a journalist. We ache when he visits Lois and finds her unresponsive and ignorant of his subtle advances. Superman #1 taps into modern themes and culture as well by exploring the digital frontier and the implications it poses to print media as well as the threat of media power-houses and their interests. The villain might not be the most compelling but provides a tricky adversary for Superman.
The artwork is smooth and detailed but not too overdone; Superman looks young in certain frames, alluding to the early time-frame in the story. Superman #1 is a worthy first edition that is intriguing and manages to sate one’s expectation but too much dialogue drags the flow of the action.