Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1

Superman has returned from his epic adventure on Warworld and touches base with family and friends. This double-length comic tells some of those stories.

We’ve seen Superman’s reunion with wife Lois and son Jon elsewhere, so who’s next? Why, his best hero chum, of course, Batman. Clark drops by Gotham City to have breakfast… but first there’s the small matter of someone else’s supervillain to tackle.

It’s Doom Patrol annoyance Mr Nobody, leader of the Brotherhood of Dada, bringing his special brand of chaos to Batman’s playground in The Concert That Ate Gotham. And this includes a rather magical page for veteran readers.

Don’t think about it too much, just enjoy the montage of vintage World’s Finest moments. And as if that wasn’t enough to justify a fan letter to writer Mark Waid, we get the after-fight fun with Bruce cooking breakfast, insisting that, as with all things, he’s an expert.

Just delightful. Waid’s script is brought to wonderful life by illustrator Clayton Henry and colour artist Marcelo Maiolo – wait until you see what else Mr Nobody does to Superman and Batman!

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen stars in A Friend, In Need, in which the red-headed reporter bids to take the perfect picture to mark Superman’s return. Dean Haspiel’s indie style art had me expecting something wacky but writer Sina Grace delivers a pleasingly thoughtful portrait of Jimmy. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the art – keep an eye on the Man of Steel’s hair…

Superman’s jaw is so strong, his tastebuds so sensitive, that he can find merit in the evil that is the pretzel

We get more of Superman’s reunion with Lois in Distractions, joining the World’s Cutest Couple in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

That’s gorgeous art from illustrator Jack Herbert and colourist Alex Guimãraes, and there’s plenty more as writer Marv Wolfman shows Super Son Jon Kent trying to prove Lex Luthor is a scumbag. Super Dad is on standby but he lets Jon handle things on his own because, he says, he’s not quite ready for the whole world to know he’s back; I suspect it’s because he wants Jon to learn what he learned a long time ago – don’t underestimate Luthor.

Back in the Eighties Wolfman gave us a great Luthor in his Adventures of Superman run and he’s having fun with the baldy baddie here. He also makes Jon a lot more engaging than he’s been in his solo title. Herbert, meanwhile, gives us terrifically detailed art, with his attention to clothing especially impressive, from Clark’s loungewear to the crinkles of Superman’s suit. And then there’s his Lois, who has bags of personality – I wish Herbert (who ‘signs’ a building at one point) was a DC regular.

Finally, Superman drops by the Hall of Justice to ruminate on, and then share with new member Naomi, what the Justice League means to him. And that’s much as you would expect – friendship, trust, legacy etc. The point of the story is revealed at the end… it turns out this is what Superman was up to before ‘the now classic’ (if you say so, DC) Justice League #75 occurred.

Which was eight months ago – was anyone still wondering, never mind caring, how to reconcile Superman’s presence in JL #75 with his being offworld in Action Comics and Jon’s title? Anyone who’s been reading comics for more than half an hour knows every story in the line isn’t happening at the same time. Writer Alex Segura and artist Fico Ossio drew the short straw here – I’m sure they could have produced something a lot more engaging given their druthers.

Dan Mora’s cover is perfect – a smiling Superman returning to Earth, and I like the ‘Big Blue’ line, that reminds me of the Triangle Era. The cover would be perfect if it had the classic Superman logo on it.

I had a great time with this book – fine writing, spiffy art, great characters… Superman has returned (nobody calls him Kal-El!) and I couldn’t be happier.

5 thoughts on “Superman: Kal-El Returns Special #1

  1. This was a fun one. And man, Clayton Henry is a force to be reckoned with. Such a talent, and so underrated.

    And soft pretzels are awesome! Clark’s had a long-standing love of them…since at least the Up, Up, and Away storyline following Infinite Crisis, co-written by Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns. (I think I saw recently on the birdsite that Busiek said Johns gave him the taste for ’em, so I guess it’s another crime you can lay at his feet, if you dislike them so much. But they’re delicious in my book!)

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    1. I’ve never heard of soft pretzels… Jimmy is certainly snapping one in this comic.

      OK, I’ve just looked again at Up, Up and Away and there’s Clark putting mustard on a pretzel, but there’s no mention of texture. Curiouser.

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      1. Oh yeah — if you’re buying pretzels from a vendor in America, they’re gonna be soft pretzels. Bready on the inside, salty on the outside. Almost closer to a bagel than the hard pretzels you might be used to. You can pull them apart like Jimmy does, but there’s no snapping sound.

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