Writer: Joshua Williams
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Cover Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: DC Comics
Superman is back! There’s no other way of saying it. The Man of Steel has returned to Earth and he’s here to stay. He’s settling back into the Daily Planet, he’s getting back to fighting supervillains, and saving lives. New threats are on the horizon of Metropolis’ future, but as shown in Superman #1, the Man of Steel is ready to face whatever danger comes his way.
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One thing this comic book achieved is selling the obvious: Superman is back baby! And that’s a good thing. For some time, many writers have been trying to “update”, “re-examine”, or “deconstruct” Superman to the point of oversaturation. But Joshua Williams and Jamal Campbell bring back the spirit of Superman in style. This comic is a great jumping on point for new and longtime readers alike. You get familiar faces, new status quo setup, and the prospect of new stories and challenges for Superman. Fair warning: there will be some SPOILERS here and there throughout the review.
The comic starts off great with a solid straightforward scenario of Superman saving people from a supervillain attack, this one being fan-favorite villainess Livewire. However, there’s a little something different going on with Superman, and it’s that Lex Luthor is giving him advice, well, his brand of advice, to fight the supervillains better. But after that, readers are introduced to new characters in an organic way without feeling forced, see some familiar faces with new things going on in their lives, and Superman just being Superman. You get Superman helping people, fighting supervillains like Livewire and Parasite, and you see the current dynamics between Supes and his supporting cast.
Let’s start with the good then go into the bad. Firstly, Joshua Williams and Jamal Campbell nail it when it comes to writing and illustrating not only Superman but the rest of the people of Metropolis from the civilians to the authorities to the supervillains, and Superman himself. You get all aspects of Superman in this comic, when he’s humble, protective, angry, intelligent, contemplative, and all around heroic. It also helps that Jamal Campbell, who readers might recognize from his work on Naomi and Far Sector, gets to show his stuff with Superman. The writer and artist fully embrace the comic book medium to have the art and panels tell the story without overly relying on exposition, and Campbell’s art and colors really shine as he makes the comic feel dynamic in every page.
It also helps that Joshua Williams is able to write every character in line with who they are at their core and where they’re at in their lives and can have them bounce off of each other well. This is shown with how he writes Superman, Lois, Jimmy Olsen, and the rest. Well, almost everyone. And this is where we get to the one major criticism that this reviewer has: Joshua Williams can’t write Lex Luthor. At least, Lex Luthor as he should be right now. In this title, Lex Luthor is in prison, a holdover from Action Comics #1000. And after seeing how Luthor’s written here, it would stand to reason that Williams wrote the portion where Luthor and Superman fought in the book, which was the weakest part of that book, in this reviewer’s opinion.
The problem is that Williams is able to nail the ruthless side of Lex Luthor, but not the suave businessman-like mastermind. Sadly, few writers at DC Comics have proven to nail both sides, with the exception of Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder, with the former especially doing the character justice when depicting him as a charismatic villain or anti-villain, like in the Forever Evil event. Williams, however, does not, and he certainly does try. The biggest example of this is not what Lex is doing, but HOW he’s doing it.
See, Lex Luthor’s big objective this time around is that he wants to help make Superman a better superhero, his way of course. Even from prison, Luthor is still trying to help Superman do that, like with the backseat advice he gives him in battle and later in the second half of the book, when Mercy (his assistant) shows Luthor’s “proposal” to help Supes. The problem, as always, is the approach or execution of it all. But I will say this: It could’ve been worse. And hey, there’s still plenty of potential here for Supes and Lex’s new dynamic as the end of the comic sets up not only a familiar villain for Superman to face, but new villains as well.
Superman #1 delivers on being one of the best jumping on points in comics for not only the Dawn of DC, but more importantly for Superman fans new and old. Readers get to see Superman being Superman, helping people, saving lives, interacting with his supporting cast, and facing familiar supervillains while setting up new ones. The writing from Joshua Williams is on point with the characters, dialogue, and pacing, and Jamal Campbell’s art truly shines and makes this comic book come alive on every page in the action, talking, and intense interactions between Superman and his villains. It’s not perfect, but it’s wholesome, fun, humorous, dynamic, and really captures the spirit of not only Superman himself, but what a Superman comic book should be. Strong recommend for Superman fans old and new alike.