This is certainly one of the more unusual Superman comics DC has published during the course of the New 52. John Romita, Jr. pulling double duty as writer and penciller is noteworthy enough. But the fact that he uses this issue to help transition from Geoff Johns’ brief run to Gene Luen Yang’s upcoming work and explore the fallout of Superman’s new Super-flare power only further sets it apart. This issue isn’t an entirely successful effort, but it’s certainly worth a look for anyone curious about Romita’s writing chops.
Essentially, Romita delivers the fun, lighthearted Justice League comic many readers have been asking for these past several years. Even as the League help Superman test his new ability, there’s a lot of joking and banter and playful camaraderie at work. Often, the focus isn’t even on these tests, but Superman making the most of his brief stint as an ordinary human. What is it like when the Man of Steel gets drunk, anyway?
The problem is that the lighthearted tone doesn’t always gel with the characters. Often the different voices feel interchangeable. Batman especially stands out in his willingness to heckle Clark and hit the bars with the rest of the team. Romita also shows an old fashioned sensibility in terms of having Superman voice his thoughts aloud and leaning on exposition to drive the story. I’m willing to cut Romita a fair amount of slack and chock the whole issue up to experimentation, but more could have been done to refine the script.
Romita’s art shines, though, as the issue allows him to tackle both quiet character interaction and big action in equal measure. Romita also deserves credit for his redesign of Superman’s costume, which is a far superior (and more subtle) attempt at overhauling a classic than the New 52 armor. Unfortunately, Dean White’s heavy colors don’t suit Romita’s work as well as previous colorists like Laura Martin.