The falling stories of Superman #1

Superman might be the most popular and well-recognized superhero of any publisher – not just DC.

Unlike Green Lantern and Batman, the story is heavily modified, which is great. This is exactly what Superman needed to attract new readers, and bring back old ones.

This Superman – and Kent – is a brooding loner. Years have passed since the events of Action Comics #1, and he has not yet made any friends in the city.

Lois works for the same company now, but in a different division. She has a new boyfriend, and has never considered Clark romantically. 

Meanwhile, Superman fights with a dispassionate distance – defeating the flaming alien which invades the city, not because he wants to, but because he feels he has to.

He is trapped by a sense of responsibility which will not let him go. He’s the most powerful man in the world – how can he rest while there is still crime and injustice?

This effectively turns Superman inward, showing the audience a different, “more real” side of the hero than the comics usually depict.

Here’s the part that doesn’t work: the book pushes the reader a bit in the middle. Yes, it’s a relatively small thing, almost, one page of the issue is turned over to another story, a mysterious creature doing something mysterious in the Arctic wastes.

However, it is unconnected to the story of the issue, and only serves the purpose of requiring readers to get another New 52 book with the (unwritten) message “for more on this mystery see Stormwatch #1.” Not only is this poor form and weak storytelling, it is certain to turn off some new readers, more so than the potential number it convinces to pick up Stormwatch. It’s exactly the wrong move.

DC needs more readers of individual lines, not more readers who read all the lines.

The stories should be allowed to function independently, so readers will be confident that if they only want to read one line, they can, without feeling like they are missing anything.

Ignore that page, and this is a compelling relaunch, but the existence of that ploy tells me that DC is not taking this seriously enough, or they don’t really get where their readership problems are.

Superman #1 is available wherever you pick up comics, including the ComiXology store.