Top DC Comics writer Geoff Johns is collaborating with longtime Marvel Comics visionary John Romita, Jr. for a new run on Superman. They will be joined by frequent Romita collaborator Klaus Janson, a legendary artist in his own right. The move returns Johns to a Man of Steel solo title for the first time in this decade, following an extremely good run of stories in Action Comics in the late 2000s.
“For me, as far as the story goes, my tagline for the story is ‘Putting the Man of Tomorrow back in the Man of Tomorrow,’” Johns told IGN. “It’s really looking at Superman and getting back to the core values and attributes and strengths of Superman. Really, the Man of Tomorrow is the theme, for me, that we’re going to tackle in this first storyline.”
Johns’ remarks are most welcome, for they remind one of the tone of his Action Comics run in the previous decade, when he worked with artists like Adam Kubert, Gary Frank and Eric Powell to modernize some core elements of the decades-old Superman mythos while simultaneously restoring the hero’s core principles of truth, justice and the American way. Johns’ work with the character –at least as a solo concern, as opposed to his appearances in Justice League — ended with his and Frank’s Superman: Secret Origin, a largely excellent retelling of the Man of Steel’s beginnings that’s been all but lost in a seemingly ceaseless stream of re-retellings of the Superman story in things like Superman: Earth One, the Man of Steel film and of course the DC Universe reboot of the New 52.
Also co-creator of the Icon Comics bestseller Kick-Ass, Romita is one of cape comics’ most popular and acclaimed artists, whose recent work with Janson on Captain Marvel: Castaway in Dimension Z earned that book a spot on ComicsAlliance’s list of the Best Comic Books of 2013. He’s also famous for his long association with Marvel and that of his father, John Romita, Sr., before him. The artist told IGN that the elder Romita had this to say about what some longtime fans will no doubt characterize as a defection to Marvel rival DC:
JRJR: [Laughs] Honestly, his first reaction was his eyes were wide open. “Are you really going to do this?” We have gone back and forth in discussions with the DC guys on two or three occasions before this. He said, “Are you really going to do it this time? You’re not going to just tempt them and leave them in a lurch.” I said, “No, and if I did that before, I feel stupid. I wouldn’t do that again.” When I did make the decision, he said, “Good. If you’re happy, I’m happy.” He said, “I have no allegiance anymore. I’ve been retired since 1996.” He said, “Whatever’s good for you, whatever’s good for your family,” and he said, “Best of all, it’s something that’s different and something new, something you would never consider,” which were the words that came out of my mouth a short time before that. He’s very biased, but he’s very happy.
Romita indicated to IGN that he hasn’t yet begun his Superman work in earnest, but some character studies have been released that demonstrate how Romita and Janson’s idiosyncratic style confronts the equally distinct sensibilities of current Superman costume designer Jim Lee. Most obviously, Romita and Janson have gone all-in on the Kryptonian armor concept that many artists have played down since the New 52 launch did away with the classic tights-and-trunks look. Your mileage may vary on how successful this approach is, but regardless it will be fun to see what Romita and Janson’s Superman looks like when the first finished pages begin to circulate later this year.
It hasn’t been confirmed which issue will begin Romita and Johns’ run, but current Superman writer Scott Lobdell has issues solicited through April’s issue #30.