The big talk of this year in comics has been Brian Michael Bendis moving on from Marvel to DC. Not without reason either, after all he spent nearly two decades building a career there and set the stage for the Marvel we know today as an entertainment juggernaut. The question, of course, is: what is the man who wrote Avengers Disassembled, who gave us Spider-Man as an Avenger, who brought the original X-Men to the present, going to bring to Superman? We got a taste in Action Comics and in DC Nation, but what now? After all, what Bendis brings would have to be very big indeed to warrant taking over both Superman books in the midst of popular runs and with Man of Steel as the title to kick it off. The answer is: quite a lot.
Man of Steel #1 does quite a bit to follow up on Rogol Zaar from the story by Bendis and Jim Lee in Action Comics #1000. While the idea of Krypton being destroyed as an act of genocide has been done before (Superman: Earth One is a recent example of that particular wrinkle), Bendis puts more of an immediate face to that with Zaar, as well as why he would’ve chosen to do that. The reason why is the actual twist for this issue, but it’s one that offers a very different perspective of what Krypton is than what we generally know. Bendis also spends a great deal of time developing Superman’s outlook of the world, what it’s like to live with the powers he has, as well as how he feels about Metropolis. Overall, it’s a great way of getting back to basics on humanizing Superman again, after the last few years have been spent dealing with the minutiae of his history.
Ivan Reis and Joe Prado do a fantastic job on this first issue of Man of Steel. In a way they’re a bridge between Bendis and his new home given their role in comics like Justice League, Green Lantern, and Blackest Night; a sort of passing of the torch. And he does do a great job with the material featuring Superman who gets to do quite a bit despite a (welcome) lack of violence, as well as the section featuring Rogol Zaar. Alex Sinclair’s colors are also quite helpful in establishing Superman’s durability in certain sections against the squish human beings who can’t help but be frail or get ashen unlike Supes. If this first issue is anything to go by though, I think we’ll be enjoying ourselves quite a bit with Bendis writing Superman, he’s in good hands.
4 Fireflies out of 5