Superman: Heroes #1 review

Superman has revealed his secret identity to the world. How will the planet’s heroes react? That’s the big question we were told this extra-sized special would address. And the answer? What do the members of the crimefighting community have to say?

About a sentence each over a busy two pages.

‘All they have to do is not touch anything?’ What? Still, this implies that Doomsday Clock #12 is canon and the Kents are alive

Sure, Batman and Wonder Woman have a private chat in Wayne Manor and the Batcave.

Artist Mike Perkins, ever the bottom fan

Booster Gold gets a couple of pages.

Miracle Monday originated in Elliot S Maggin’s Seventies novel of the same name, it’s a future holiday celebrated on the third Monday in May

And that’s pretty much it. The rest of the book isn’t awful – there are two good short stories, in fact – but this isn’t a big picture look at the heroes’ reactions, it’s basically a Superman special. There’s business involving the mysterious box Lex Luthor left with Lois ages ago which turns out to be an overdressed revelation linked to Action Comics.

Really, editorial should have swapped the positions of that first panel and ‘Epilogue’ and just dropped that poor, lost, Fortress caption. We know.

There’s a visit by Superman to his favourite Smallville High teacher.

Good Lord, how tough was Clark’s homework?

He checks in with Jimmy Olsen.

Excellent cape work there, look at the way it falls and ripples.

There’s a two-page vignette underlining modern Lois Lane’s habit of doing things behind Clark’s back for no good reason. And she hired a staff? How much does the Daily Planet pay?

In the old days, people could just write to Superman via Metropolis post office and they’d hang onto the mail until Christmas each year

And of course, the inevitable flashback to Pa Kent’s Barn of Homespun Wisdom.

Martha Kent has been fixing a motorcycle. Really!

‘Your honest best.’ I like that. It’s just a shame we see this kind of thing so often. Also, Jonathan swears in front of Clark. No way.

And whatever could this mean?

Finally, Pa Kent gets to have a beer

Perhaps Clark and Lana had a Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt thing going. Or maybe the two statements aren’t related ie did someone bully Clark, and is something involving Lana upsetting him?

The tale of the teacher is really sweet, I detect the hand of Bendis here – annoyingly, the issue credits are bundled together with no specifics. I’m pretty confident in attributing the gorgeous, clean art to Scott Godlewski, it’s just a shame the teacher seems so sad. And I cannot believe that without using his super-abilities to cheat, kid Clark could manage only a c-minus average. Come on Mr Bendis, we journos are a tad brighter than that.

The Jimmy Olsen tale made me sad, of course he’s upset at Superman and if the Man of Steel can’t tell that from his body language, never mind his super-senses, he’s an idiot. That’s some clever writing from Matt Fraction and subtle composition from Steve Lieber.

How weird that I’ve followed Booster Gold for decades and never had any idea he was dying to reveal to the world that Clark Kent is Superman. Oh well, I like the note of optimism that closes the scene.

The bit with Diana and Bruce is the story I liked least… Batman is jealous that he can never go public with his secret ID? While I agree Clark’s decision is going to bite him on the behind, no way is Bruce that small a man. And boy, will Greg Rucka ever acknowledge that he’s writing comics, not novels, and not waste page space with drawn-out conversations and empty moments? I like the murky art from Mike Perkins, and the colours by, presumably, his Lois Lane partner Gabe Eltaeb, simply glow.

As for the stuff I came for, the reactions of the heroes, they’re nicely drawn by (who ya gonna call?) Kevin Maguire, but no one really says anything hugely surprising. And Plastic Man is beyond annoying. For the record, I’m with John Constantine. Oh, and we still don’t get an in-story reason as to why Harley Quinn, seen in the set-up to this comic in a recent issue of Superman in the Hall of Justice, is there.

The framing scene with Lois and the Lex Box is lovely to look at, I think that’s Mike Norton drawing, perhaps Andy Troy colouring? And the opening Smallville bit, Norton too? Perhaps Ma Kent’s bike is a Norton, and it’s a clue! Dang the lack of proper credit breakdowns, apologies to any creators I miscredit… perhaps you could have a word with your employers?

Here’s what we do get.

Editors, must try harder.

The Bryan Hitch cover, coloured by Alex Sinclair, is fine. Serviceable.

If you’re thinking of buying this comic, I’d say, by all means do. If you have time to spare and plenty of cash. Otherwise, it’s eminently skippable. Yep, there are a couple of nice stories, but nothing that screams ‘unmissable’. All the art is at least decent. But there’s no Wow! moment. No big surprise. No insightful new piece of characterisation. Nothing that especially moves things forward. Not even an action scene to speak of. The nearest thing to an essential moment is the Jimmy scene, and that could have been worked into his current maxi-series.

On the basis of this, should I even bother to buy the accompanying, supposedly complementary, Superman: Villains?

9 thoughts on “Superman: Heroes #1 review

  1. Bendis mentioned that Fraction wrote the teacher story, and Fraction mentioned the Booster story on a recent Wordbaloon interview, so those (along with the Jimmy story) are from him.

    For me, I loved the teacher story. Especially the last panel, which felt like the perfect button to me. And I don’t Clark really working to earn a C- means he wasn’t smart, or anything like that — just that it was a hard subject, and people learn at different rates, especially when they’re kids.

    Similarly, I don’t think Bruce being jealous of Clark makes him a small man. Jealousy is a human emotion, and we’re all entitled to it. I think if he were to act on those feelings — sabotaging his announcement, etc. — *that* would make him small. But instead he’s helping protect his family, by keeping the Kent farm “off the grid” — whatever that means.

    I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a good explanation for Wonder Woman’s concern in the previous reveal scenes. I’m much more interested in her perspective on what Superman has done, than her concern for how it affects Batman.

    Oh, and I think when Pa Kent asks about the bullying and Lana, they’re meant to be two separate possibilities.

    And hey, I love your new captioning on the images! Looks great, and it makes for a good way to say something about certain details without having to necessarily work it into the flow of the prose. And yeah, that’s nice capework!


    1. Thanks for the comments, as ever, Rob, it’s good to know who did what. I’d also like to know why Diana looked terribly uncomfortable in two previous reactions to the reveal, yet here she’s open minded, at worst.

      I thought I’d finally try the captions, it’s a shame they’re the same colour as the main text, I worry that they might look like part of what passes around here for a review. Mind, they are a tad smaller.


  2. Spot on review. The characterization is off to say the least. Why is Jimmy unhappy when he seems so cool about the reveal in Superman #18? Why is Batman jealous of Superman’s decision, when he gains nothing from doing the same? You would think, as a detective, that he would worry about someone connecting the dots, as Lex Luthor only recently discovered Batman’s identity of being Bruce Wayne with a similar occurrence. Bronze Age Superman would have struggled to maintain a C- minus average not as to draw attention to himself. Bendis Superman struggles to get to a C- average because . . . ??? Lois Lane is the worst of the lot. If Superman did any of the things Lois did, he would be seen as a paternalistic jerk. Why is Lois continuously written as a self-important ass?

    I was hoping to see some genuine reaction to Superman’s actions, but aside of Booster Gold, who already knew, it’s a trite and glib affair.


  3. Regarding vague book credits, apparently it’s not from lack of effort, since DC does this from time to time. Hopefully it won’t become the norm.

    I can pick out most (or all?) of the Maguire pages, and based on his work in Lois Lane can recognize Perkins – but, was he colored by Mounts or by Eltaeb? Mounts colored the first few issues of Lois and then Eltaeb took over, following the same dark color design Mounts had established. Is it possible to know which of them colored these Perkins pages?

    I don’t know who worked on most of the other stories.

    Batman Pennyworth RIP has the same type of credits: 2 writers and 7 artists. A lot of the art is so distinctly different that if you were already familiar with the artists you’d know their work immediately. But if you don’t yet know, then this book won’t start your education. As for writing, for now I’ll assume any page with more than the median number of words is Tynion, and any with fewer is Tomasi.

    The lack of clear credits seems unfair to the talent.


    1. I’d say that if they can do it sometimes, but don’t at others, that is a lack of effort.

      After I guessed which story Godlewski drew I popped over to his Twitter and found confirmation. Norton is trickier; on the one hand, he can look enjoyably anonymous, but he can also emulate other styles.

      Very fair point about Tynion, also, he loves to have heroes sweat. As his Batman would say, ‘HH’.


      1. Oh I meant that so little effort is required, that it must be deliberate, and they did it twice this week alone. But given the book was delayed by 2 weeks, the story order might not have been finalized by the time the letterer of the first story had finished his work. There may not have been time to then re-work the credits page. And, there’s not a whole lot of space for more detail – not without shrinking Superman, or reducing the font size. And all the detail would detract from the impact of the double-page splash. So it could have been an artistic choice, and I’m started to talk myself into the spirit of forgiveness!

        But. there is tons of space on the last page.

        Do you ever check the credits before reading? I do, carefully. The credits could be anywhere on the first few pages, or could be on the final page, and I look for them while shielding myself from spoilers.

        I’ll keep an eye out for “HH.” Modern DC House Style also seems to require a lot of “Hrn” and “Huff huff.” I haven’t seen “Eh?” much since the Silver Age.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Great questions, Tanes. I think, as regards Jimmy, he’s trying to keep up appearances while being really rather hurt. Maybe he did indeed guess the secret on that daft pretext, yet it’s painful that he’s only learning officially with the rest of the world.


  4. TN, I don’t look for the credits before reading, I’m far too nervous of spoilage, I couldn’t hone in on part of a page. I wish they’d just stick all credits on page one, I can’t really settle into a story until I know I’m not going to be interrupted by a beat for title and credits


  5. I think they are doing it like TV where the main credits these days some after a teaser scene; or films, where credits very often come at the very end. It’s theatrical, but it definitely can be annoying.

    However – I buy the comics, and it’s relatively easy to squint at pages and avoid spoilers. Much harder with digital, which is how I think you’ve said you read.

    Liked by 1 person

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