Clark Kent is back at the Daily Planet and super-speed typing is once again the order of the day. Perry White has held the front page for Clark’s latest scoop, while Lois Lane is keen to get back home to son Jon.
There’s a change of plan. Lois and Clark are happier than ever, yet Clark can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. Specifically, memories of life before the recent attack by Mr Mxyzptlk are fading for him and Lois. So while Lois leaves to tuck Jon into bed, Clark switches to Superman and flies off to his Arctic Fortress of Solitude. He has one request for the memory crystals that link him to the Kryptonian heritage he can no longer quite remember: ‘Tell me everything,’
Superman’s mind is blown. It’s like he’s never virtually visited Krypton and the tableau in which he finds himself feels real, connects him to the world he should have known. Soon the scene changes, and he ‘meets’ his birth parents, Lara and Jor-El. He sees their fear that Krypton will soon die, hears their dreams for the child they hold, wants to reassure them.
And too soon, they’re gone. The holographic display shifts to Earth, and baby Kal’s first meeting with two very special people. Time passes, and Superman is reminded of growing up in Smallville. Later, he sees his Daily Planet colleagues, and embraces the peace that arrives with knowledge of where he came from, physically and emotionally. But there’s darkness around the corner.
That’s because while Superman’s been taking a refresher course in his history, someone has been gathering up old foes, offering them a shot at revenge.
Is this striking figure a new version of Brainiac? The letters making up the holographic being presumably represent computer code rather than anagrams (fingers crossed they’re not verses from the Koran). And is it coincidence that a new Superman Revenge Squad is on the horizon just as the Man of Steel is trying to solve the mystery of who could terrify Mxyzptlk? Diversion, or just another day at the Super-Office?
After the adventure of Superman (and Lois) Reborn I’m thrilled that writer Dan Jurgens is letting us see where this book is going, along with what’s in and what’s out. The origin is basically Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Secret Origin, with odd bits from other continuities, such as the presence of an older Kara on Krypton and the mixing of fashions from different tellings. While Silver and Bronze Age Jor-El and Lara will always be my classic versions, others are equally authentic; the important thing is how well Jurgens writes them, and guest artist Ian Churchill draws them.
The scene with the Kents is equally good – Jurgens is a master of down-home dialogue, while Jurgens, with colour house Hi-Fi, gets the American heartland of Kansas dead on.
The moments with Metallo, Blanque and the mystery gatherer have an equally strong mood, but an altogether darker one which bodes well for the continuation of this story.
Other things I liked this issue: Clark’s pinboard with its references to creators past; Superman wondering if he could send Jon away for his own good as Jor-El and Lara despatched him; baby Kal sucking on a dummy, his head, bald but for a cute kiss curl; Perry White as godfather; the ‘generally uneventful’ phrase hinting at untold stories of the rocketship trip to Earth. Oh, and does anybody else want a Kryptonian hoodie?
Is the idea that Jor-El’s funding extended to just one small craft new? I don’t recall that, but you know how memories can be erased by any passing magical imp.
Dan Jurgens has written hundreds of comics, and The New World is up there with the best. His contraction of the awfully drawn out Secret Origin book is artfully done, and all the origin I need. And it’s beautifully drawn by Churchill, whether he’s giving us a big panel of Clark flying through Metropolis or Martha Kent’s joy at being given a chance to be a mother.
The escape from Krypton image is an instant classic, with Hi-FI’s bold tones a significant part of that.
Adam Kubert’s movie poster-style cover is as iconic as anyone could wish, a lovely piece. It’s coloured by Brad Anderson, who also works with Gary Frank on the gorgeously eerie variant.
If anyone you know has been curious about current Superman stories, having heard the great reviews – well, this is the place to point them. It’s a new beginning, and a beautiful one at that.