Superman: Heroes #1 Quietly Explores the Fallout of Clark's Decisionby Sam Stone, Sam Stone
Greg Rucka, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction
Steve Lieber, Mike Perkins, Mike Norton, Scott Godlewski, Kevin Maguire
Gabe Eltaeb, Andy Troy, Nathan Fairbairn, Paul Mounts
Clayton Cowles, Simon Bowland, Troy Peteri
Alex Sinclair, Bryan Hitch
The Man of Steel has had some profoundly life-altering developments as of late. Superman's time-displaced son returned years older as a teenager before traveling to the far-future as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, while a more antagonistic Jor-El arrived to confront his son. After all of this happened to the Man of Tomorrow within a relatively short amount of time, the DC Universe's flagship superhero publicly unveiled his dual identity as Clark Kent to the world in a surprise announcement. The special one-shot Superman: Heroes #1 has the various creative teams of the Superman line of comic books explore the fallout of this decision within the DCU's heroic community, with largely effective results.
Taking place in the immediate aftermath of Superman's announcement, the issue follows the superheroes of the DCU -- including Clark's longtime teammates on the core Justice League -- as they confide with him in their various stances on the identity reveal but also Superman's supporting cast. In addition to speaking with the Man of Steel, the issue also shows several heroes conferring amongst themselves, without Superman present to hear what they really think leading to some surprising revelations as the DCU reacts to its greatest hero going public.
Bendis has been writing Superman for nearly two years now, but this issue really does have him and the rest of the creative team focus on the various heroes and supporting characters rather than Clark Kent himself. Bendis employs a "talking head" approach, similar to the multi-perspective sequences he featured during his run on Avengers. However, this issue really soars in its quieter moments. Greg Rucka, Mike Perkins and Gabe Eltaeb handles a particularly strong sequence featuring a conversation between Batman and Wonder Woman while Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber focuses on a heart-to-heart between Superman and Jimmy Olsen showing a surprising amount of emotional depth between the two characters rather than the screwball comedy of their Jimmy Olsen series.
There is plenty to dig into here, with the creative team also featuring Kevin Maguire, Mike Norton, Scott Godlewski, Andy Troy, Nathan Fairbairn and Paul Mounts, expanding on the proceedings. The art here is top-notch throughout, with even the more obscure superheroes of the DCU given at least a panel or two to shine as they contemplate the implications of Superman's decision. The biggest quibble is that while some sequence transitions handled by different art teams are pretty clearly defined, several are not. This makes the sudden change in visuals appear a bit more jarring than they should, which can throw off the reader rather than transitioning more seamlessly.
For anyone looking for the big, explosive consequences of Superman's identity reveal, this doesn't have them. Instead, this is a meditation on the nature of secret identities within the DCU superhero community and discussions over whether the Man of Steel's decision was a responsible, sound one. If you're looking for more bombastically traditional superhero fallout, Bendis and John Romita Jr. are in the midst of delivering that right now in the pages of Action Comics. But here, Bendis and his collaborative partners are able to give Clark's announcement a chance to breathe before shifting the perspective to that of the DCU's villains in a similar special later this month.
A quietly soul-searching special issue without coming off as overly somber, Superman: Heroes #1 offers the chance for readers to really explore the ramifications of secret identities becoming obsolete. Meditative with surprising emotional and comedic flourishes, the issue continues to remind readers that the Man of Steel and his extensive supporting cast remain in good hands, secret identity or not, as the Kent family flies into an uncertain future.
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