Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason were starting to worry me. After the first 12 issues of Superman knocked me on my butt by just how great they were, I didn’t like the issues since as much. Now, it was still good, and a lot better than the Superman books had been since maybe 2008. It just wasn’t as great as their start on the title had been. Now I know why.
They were saving the awesome for this issue. In this issue, with a story by Tomasi and Gleason, and art by Gleason, Mick Gray, and John Kalisz, Mr. Oz realizes something is amiss, and finds himself facing the empty cell of one of his four prisoners (whom we didn’t know about until this point), as Red Robin sneers at him. We’re then taken to Hamilton COunty, where the Kents are celebrating Lois and Clark’s anniversary. The celebration is interrupted by the false Clark Kent, whose arrival (and gift) wipes out the farmhouse and Jon Kent himself. Tearfully, Lois and Clark vow to get their son back.
As a parent, there is nothing more frightening than your child getting abducted. It’s one of a few things that would make a normal peaceful person turn violent. Tomasi and Gleason write that desperation, fear and sorrow perfectly. Clark’s helplessness is perfectly written on the page. He’s horrified and there’s nothing that the most powerful man on Earth can do to save his son. It’s the ultimate real-life horror, and they turn it into a threat on the level of Superman. I’ve said a lot that Superman is one of my favorite superheroes because of his humanity. Normal that means he’s an inspiration, he’s compassionate, and what have you. In this scenario, it’s because he’s vulnerable.
It’s damn near perfect.
Gleason, Gray and Kalisz put the horror on the page near-perfectly as well. Jon’s wide-eyed innocence makes the attack on him even more horrifying. Superman is still a powerful figure on every page, even as Clark, which makes his terror and vulnerability even more gut-wrenching. The false Clark, while looking identical to Superman, is absolutely horrifying. The art team makes a great choice of turning his glasses opaque, almost removing his humanity in the process. And knowing who false Clark is, it’s a the perfect choice to depict him.
Superman Reborn is going to be a game-changer for the Man of Steel, and really it’s just scratching the surface. However, if it continues this momentum, it’ll be a Superman epic for the ages. I can’t wait for more.