Superman #52 Review

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi

Art by: Mikel Janin

Publisher: DC Comics

Superman has not had the best experience in the new 52. A lot of bad editorial decisions and unclear focus have led to mixed crossovers, an angsty character and a handle of the character that hasn’t felt like Superman. Outside of Morrison’s initial Action Comics run, John’s attempts to rectify the character and Pak’s fun intimate arcs before being roped into endless crossovers, there haven’t been many good Superman stories the last five years. With Rebirth on the horizon though, a clearer focus has been taking shape; Lois and Clark has been retroactively fixing stories, and the ongoing Superman titles have been about shuffling the board to get the character we know and love back in the spotlight. The end of this crossover however feels less like a swansong of an idea that didn’t quite work, and more a case of taking Ol’ Yeller out the back with a shotgun.

This crossover has had some nice emotional moments, particularly Clark’s friends dealing with his loss while he tries to remain strong and accept his fate. Amidst all the cynicism associated with the new 52 version of the character, for him to remain optimistic and hopeful in the face of death has been the most “in character” thing for him the past five years. Here though, there’s very little emotional resonance in the crescendo. This issue serves mostly as a climactic punch up between Superman and his solar powered doppelganger, which does feel nicely exciting and is pretty thrilling when the pre-Flashpoint Superman comes into play, but it feels lacking in other departments. For an 8-part crossover, not much progress has really been made. For saying goodbye to a character many new fans will have grown attached to (despite someone like me not particularly caring) there’s very little fanfare to his goodbye. It could’ve been a huge story featuring serveral villains and touching moments, but ends up feeling more like a poor man’s All-Star Superman. Even the previous Truth/Savage Dawn story, while becoming a bit of a mess towards the end felt more like a love letter to the character than this, and would’ve been a far more fitting send off.

What at least gives the issue a nicely epic feels is Mikel Janin’s art. While his drawing of Superman has been ruined for me by someone pointing out he looks just like Dick Grayson, he has a suitably big style which goes great with big scale super hero brawls. It’s the perfect choice for an all out brawl to end Superman, though as stated the script does let it down in terms of a satisfying conclusion.

When I finished this issue, I was optimistic about the future of the Superman books, though disappointed in this conclusion. It feels like a coldly edited moving of pieces from A to B rather than a swansong for the character. While I don’t have the emotional attachment to this version of Superman, I’m sure many do, so it feels weird to just give up and boot him off the board rather than deliver a fitting conclusion. Overall though, I’m excited for what looks to be coming next, which will hopefully rectify the Superman line and give him the title he deserves.