Now that DC's "The New 52" has begun, this is our chance to see the early days of Superman. Dressed in jeans, boots and a Superman t-shirt, he feels as far from the Superman we all know. It turns out there is something to this re-interpretation.
I was extremely nervous over the apparent direction of this title. From the covers to the first three issues along with the fact that Superman is wearing a Superman t-shirt with jeans and work boots...how could we not be concerned. What happened to the Superman we all knew?
Let's note that this is written by Grant Morrison. That gives some reassurance but the preview for this issue showed us a more violent-on-crime Superman versus the big blue boy scout we've been used to. I gave this some thought. Morrison did some crazy things on Batman but it turned out a lot had ties to past issues, more specifically the Silver Age books. I re-read my reprint copy of the original Action Comics #1 and of course, Morrison is on to something here. Superman was a bit of a jerk in his first appearance. He busted down doors and coerced the villains into confessions. Just like we have here.
This is a new Superman for all of us. Yes there is some inspiration from the original vibe of the series but it is also completely updated for today's age. Last week's Justice League took place five years ago. This issue doesn't specifically say when it takes place but we know it's before Justice League due to his costume (or lack of). We still have some of the anti-superhero feeling that was present in Justice League. Superman is a hero but not the hero everyone loved from the beginning. This adds a different and welcomed twist to Superman.
Rags Morales' art here grows on me more and more after re-reading (yes, I read this more than once). I really didn't like the costume design (not sure if he came up with the jeans, t-shirt and boots look) but it makes sense in a way. I always felt Superman got his costume too easily. I also like the idea of us not knowing right away when and how he got his Kryptonian armor. Superman clearly looks a lot younger. He's not quite Superboy here but definitely looks younger than he will in his other appearances.
While I do like the idea of Superman being an enemy of the city, it's hard to say how long that could be entertaining. Even though he was a little abrasive in his original appearances, we never really saw him as being feared. Superman should be feared at first. Especially if people knew he was from another planet.
There are also some other minor differences that will have to play out for a bit to see how they work.
While reading, I kept expecting to have the typical 'Grant Morrison blew my mind' moment but there really wasn't much of one. Maybe next issue.
This is not the Superman you're looking for, and that's a good thing. From the first images of a younger Superman in jeans, work boots and a S t-shirt, we were left wondering what Grant Morrison and Rags Morales were up to. With the intentions of giving us a Superman that was different from what we've been reading the last couple decades, they have succeeded. This Superman acts closer to his 1938 appearance mixed in with the world that isn't too crazy about superheroes (that we got a glimpse of in Justice League #1). This younger Superman might think he has the answers with his brash approach to dealing with crime but he will soon find out he might be in over his head. With plenty of familiar faces presented again for the first time, we have a new world to get used to. Morrison doesn't blow our minds away with his typical fashion but we are definitely off to a good start. This Superman is familiar yet different enough to feel like we're seeing the character for the first time.