Superman Special #1

“For Those Who Serve”

Written by Peter J. Tomasi and  Patrick Gleason
Art by, Scott Godlewski
Colors by, Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by, Rob Leigh

Recap

The issue begins, Jonathan has a dream, he remembers Dinosaur Island, and that men were left behind during a previous adventure. When he wakes he tells Superman that they have a promise to keep: Captain Storm must be rescued from Dinosaur Island (*See Superman Black Dawn). Superman takes them to the Fortress of Solitude, and he locates Manchester Black’s energy transport device which he utilizes to find Dinosaur Island. The issue does a nice job of connecting the dots for the reader so that I was easily able to recall the feelings I had from the original story. The strong start creates the intrigue for the rest of the story: “Sometimes things that are worth doing are hard to do.”

The story transitions to Dinosaur Island where Captain Storm fights a large dinosaur which corners him. Superman and SuperBoy teleport into the belly of the dinosaur which explodes, both saving and surprising Captain Storm. Superman grabs Storm, and they fly away; however, they are quickly surrounded by prehistoric birds. Superman transports Storm to the cave where his belongings are stored so that he can grab something before they leave the island. The exploding dinosaur belly was cool; the art made it really fun. Also, Storm’s leg transforms into a reptilian leg during the flight piquing my interest: will he turn into a dinosaur? Is that even possible?

Five days later, Captain Storm has been fitted with a new robotic leg thanks to Cyborg. Storm asks Clark and Jon if he could take a walk over a famous bridge: The Brooklyn Bridge (*See “The Bridge” by Peter J. Tomasi). Clark gives Storm the keys to a new car. Storm informs Clark and Jon that he’s taking a trip so that he could give the dog tags of his cohorts to their family members. The sentiment is consistent with this culture’s understanding of military servicemen: they are loyal to the ones with whom they served.  

Later, Clark and Jon talk about the experience. Clark teaches Jon that sometimes we have to fight for what’s right and to defend those who can’t defend themselves. Captain Storm was surprised by the amount of war in our present-day culture. After what he experienced in WWII, it is not surprising that he would be shocked by humanity’s refusal to find common ground. The lesson is on the nose but not preachy. The art is strong throughout. This felt like a well-placed farewell issue for Tomasi and Gleason who’ve included examples of Clark teaching Jonathan his values throughout this post-Rebirth period of Superman.

“Strays and Strangers”

Written by, Mark Russell
Art by, Bryan Hitch
Colors by, Alex Sinclair
Letters by, Tom Napolitano

Recap

The story begins, Superman returns to Metropolis exhausted from his space adventure. He finds a large monster attacking the city and confronts it to save the people of Metropolis. The people tell him to kill it; Superman says, no need. Flashback, as a child Clark finds a stray dog that had been killing their chickens. Clark says, “It’s just a stray.” His dad tells Clark to bring inside and they’ll feed it, “There’s is more hunger in the world than evil.”  

The story returns to the present. He sends the Atlantean monster back into the ocean and then saves a man trapped in a building. The man begs him to get the pictures of his family he left in his 14th-floor apartment. Superman rushes to do so but hears a dog trapped in another apartment. He saves the dog instead just before the entire building collapses. During the collapse, Superman has a flashback to his parent’s funerals and asks himself: am I a good person? The self-reflection is appropriate due to the context. During times of crisis, people often reflect back on their lives, think about loved ones, and find meaning in their situations.  

The story concludes, Superman brings the dog to the man and asks him to take care of it. The man is upset that he didn’t get the pictures of his family. Superman empathizes then asks the man if he would care for the puppy: the art shows the man holding the puppy. The transition happens quickly but isn’t as preachy as it might seem. The story humanizes Superman and makes him relatable. I really liked this and wonder if DC could find a way for Mark Russell to write Superman stories?

“Split Decision”

Written by,  Ian Flynn
Art and Colors by, Kaare Andrew
Letters by, Tom Napolitano

Recap

The story begins, Atomic Skull, a purple skeleton-looking creature runs into Superman. He informs the group that Atomic Skull has been making great strides in his recovery from his criminal past. He has been working with the MSCU, the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. Skull and Superman confront Shock Wave, which Skull addresses as, “Arnold” when they confront him. Atomic Skull asks Arnold to come out quietly; however, Shock Wave locates Superman’s unique molecular vibration and ignites a huge explosion. Atomic Skull neutralizes the effect of the vibrations, which frees Superman who finishes off Shockwave.

The story concludes, Atomic Skull blames Superman for making Arnold what he became. Superman confronts and prompts him to forgive so that he won’t be eaten alive by his anger. The conflict feels authentic and adds layers to the typical recovery story in comics. Skull still has things to work through. Superman recognizes Skull’s progress while still confronting what he has yet to overcome. The art was more cartoony in a jagged way, which fit the story. I highly recommend this issue for the messages it provides and the example it gives of Superman’s value system. 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
8
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Tom Zimm
I am a licensed clinical social worker and trauma therapist that works with children. I've been interested in comic book heroes since I was a young child. However, it's been in the last 3-4 years that I've been making the weekly trip to the local comic book store to redeem my pull list. DC's Rebirth really won me over, especially Geoff Johns' 80-page book. My favorite properties include The Flash and The Incredible Hulk. My criteria for a good comic book include taking stupid and fun seriously while remaining self-aware.
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