As you can tell, I’m all in on DC’s “Rebirth” initiative. I actually went into the comic book shop again today — making it two weeks in a row — and bought THREE single issue comic books. It’s been well over ten years since that’s happened.
The book I felt most excited to purchase? Superman: Rebirth #1.
Bear with me. As you know, I like Superman, but I don’t love Superman. What’s always made him fall short with me from a story telling perspective is that he’s too powerful, too self-assured, and too moralistic. Don’t misunderstand, these are wonderful qualities in everyday life, but when discussing a character who has appeared in monthly stories since 1938, well, things can get a little predictable.
So when I heard the pre-New 52 Superman would arrive in the New 52 universe, the Superman I read in high school, you know, the one killed by Doomsday, and that he would replace the New 52 Superman, and that he would have his wife, Lois Lane, and son along his side, well, I couldn’t be more excited.
(I promise, an actual review will eventually unfold …)
You see, Superman has always been portrayed during my lifetime as the ultimate good guy, a fatherly figure who is nearly infallible. But unlike Batman, he never had much of an extended family. We had trouble identifying with him. Sure, he had an amazing cast of characters, but very few of them knew Superman like an Alfred, Dick Grayson, or Tim Drake knew Batman.
Now, here I am at the age of 39, married with two kids, and my Superman is also married with a son! I think this is incredibly interesting because those of you with kids realize that no matter how much you think you have your act together, kids will unravel you into a chaotic mess within minutes. I’ve never seen Superman cope with raising a child, and a child with powers similar to his own! Acting morally is one thing, teaching another to be just as moral is quite another. This is a Superman I can’t wait to see. This is a Superman with whom I can identify. This is a Superman who may have met his ultimate match — fatherhood.
Furthermore, how cool is it that kids can read this book with their parents and everyone can identify with someone in the book? DC figured out long ago that kid sidekicks boost sales among young children because those children can live vicariously through said sidekick. Just imagine swinging through the sky by Batman’s side, running alongside the Flash, firing arrows through the air with Green Arrow, or, now, flying faster than a speeding bullet with the ultimate hero!
Okay, so you know I’m sold on the entire premise of the pre-New 52 Superman being back with his family in tow. Husband? Father? Hero? I’m in.
How about the actual book?
It’s mostly set up, to be honest. Good, not great.
Superman: Rebirth #1 serves mostly to explain what happened to the New 52 Superman and why the old Superman must replace him on a permanent basis. The book’s primary purpose seems to help the reader remember who this new/old Superman is, what he’s been through in the past, why he knows so much about the New 52 characters, and that he has a family he feels he must protect against the world.
It’s a lot of talking, quite a bit of flashbacks, and, again, mostly set up. Don’t get me wrong — it did a marvelous job establishing the future for this new/old Superman. Most importantly, it also helped us to say goodbye to the New 52 Superman in a way that made me realize I liked him more than I thought I did.
Could you skip this one without missing anything important? I think so. Neither Lois nor Superman’s son appear at all, and new/old Superman doesn’t even don the red and blue. I enjoyed the book, but it’s not vital to your understanding of the new direction.
I don’t regret buying Superman: Rebirth #1 at all, but it didn’t convince me to come back for more in the coming weeks. I will check out the collected editions when they are released, but I don’t feel any urgency to buy the single issues as they are published.