By: George Pérez (writer), Nicola Scott (penciller), Trevor Scott (inker), Brian Buccellato, Brett Smith, Blond (colorists)

The Story: When in doubt, just shoot heat vision at your problem.

The Review: Over in Action Comics, Grant Morrison is revamping the early days of Superman and essentially the core of his character.  In Justice League, Geoff Johns offers a Superman settled into his guardianship role and powers.  Here, Pérez is responsible for crafting the first story for the Superman of a new generation.  Sadly, he gave us a very tepid start, which has only petered out with each passing issue.

The story just feels like it switched into neutral gear and is stuck there.  This issue’s opener says it all: it recaps the history of Superman and establishes one of the story’s main conflicts, the growing distrust of Metropolis for its protector.  This kind of thing might have been appropriate for the debut, but at this middle stage of the arc, it’s just pointless rhetoric without function—which kind of suits the whole media commentary Pérez wants to make here.

Not to mention the whole monologue is also clearly hampered by the fact Superman’s history is still in the works.  With all of the Man of Steel’s continuity still in development, Pérez only has so many concrete events to recall (“…Metropolis was attacked by a far bigger threat.  Another alien life form called the collector of worlds.”), some of which haven’t even completed yet (“While the reports of what actually happened remain contradictory and muddled…”).

Ultimately, this six-paged introduction (you heard right—over a quarter of the issue gets lost to this) is merely an attempt on the part of Daily Planet journalist Billy McCoy to paint Superman as the source of Metropolis’ problems, with the City of Tomorrow as collateral damage. As I’ve said before, this is an old point of contention, one that has no easy resolution, and it’s doubtful Pérez can offer one just by hammering away at the issue nonstop.

It does feel like Pérez is so caught up in emphasizing his themes that he can’t advance the actual plot.  Everything established in Superman #1 gets reiterated here without a bit of development: Clark’s estrangement from his Planet buddies, his disgust over its takeover, the lurking antipathy towards Superman, the mysterious nature of his enemies, who, despite their various powers, are mindlessly rote in their strategies and attacks.

And while I’m all for building a strong supporting cast and giving them plenty to do, the Planet people essentially drive the series now.  Except when Superman goes out to punch something, the overall tension and progression of the story comes from the sayings and doings of Perry, Lois, Jimmy, Miko, Ms. Izquierdo, Billy McCoy, Cat Grant, and Heather Kelley, among others.  The sad part is none of them say or do anything worth reading, and you connect to none of them.

After a beautiful run with Gail Simone on Secret Six, Scott has been saddled with rather weak storylines, and that trend continues here.  Her confident, full-figured lines often require large panels to breathe, and Pérez’s mercilessly dense script makes such space impossible.  In this shrunken environment, her usually expressive and powerful details vanish, leaving behind a rather pedestrian-looking issue.  It doesn’t help that Pérez’s bland writing offers little substance for Scott to work with.

Conclusion: Pérez offers a title that’s merely functional, but completely inert of true life.  It offers drama without genuine emotion, action without energy, conflict without suspense.  Worst of all, it puts an A-grade artist on strictly C-material, which is very poor sport indeed.  Consider this title also Dropped.

Grade: C-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Careful Clark, or you might give the Flash a run for his money in the Perpetually Tardy competition.