CLEVELAND, Ohio — We have our Superman back!
It takes a big comic company to admit when it screws up, and granted it took more than four years to do so, but hey, DC has brought back the real Superman.
About four years ago DC had this bright idea to relaunch the universe. The scenario, called “Flashpoint,” was pretty brilliant: Flash goes back in time to prevent the murder of his mother and, in so doing, sets off a chronal chain reaction that alters the current timeline, hence the New 52. (Look for “Flashpoint” to be a major plotline in all the CW superhero television shows this fall.)
Superman seemed hardest hit. The New 52 version had two simultaneous series running. One was the adventures of a younger Superman, who wore jeans and a t-shirt. The other was an older Superman – who was having a romantic relationship with Wonder Woman.
The stories were not bad, some were very good, and the relationship with Wonder Woman was pretty interesting.
But he wasn’t really Superman.
DC got the message.
For the second time in less than five years, DC rebooted the comic universe under the banner “Rebirth.” And most of the new versions, or new-old versions, are excellent. It’s gets a little crazy as DC tries to merge, or least acknowledge, the new and old versions of the characters as well as the television and movie versions, which conflict like crazy.
Through a series of stories too complicated to go into here, the pre-New 52 Superman was brought over to the “real” Earth along with his wife, Lois and son, Jon. They lived in secret because that world already had a Superman. This was the Superman fans have watched grow for decades and he was the one we wanted back.
When the New 52 Superman died, the original Man of Steel stepped out of the shadows.
His uniform is wrong, but he’s more clearly feels like the real thing.
He’s fighting Doomsday in the current issues of “Action Comics”, written by the great Dan Jurgens and art by Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert. Jurgens is a DC veteran and he knows his Superman. The coolest part is that DC Comics wisely brought back the original numbering of “Action” and “Detective” Comics, the two oldest, continuously published series in comic history. So Action is now up to issue number 961 meaning we’ll be breaking the big 1,000th very soon.
Can’t wait to bee what happens in that landmark issue.
Animosity No. 1 (Aftershock, $3.99) Okay, I’m an animal guy so naturally I fell for this one. One day all the animals on Earth become intelligent and the aftermath is not pretty. There are good animals and bad animals and people are fighting for their survival. The story centers on a young girl and her loving pet bloodhound. The interaction between the two, and the dog’s devotion to her, make the book worth reading.
Scarlet Witch No. 9 (Marvel, $3.99) This is tangentially part of the ho-hum Marvel epic crossover event, “Civil War II.” But unlike the war stories, this one is fascinating and shows real revelations in the characters of Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver. Writer James Robinson takes existing stories form the past and cobbles together a whole new status quo of the siblings, which is not easy considering that Marvel has changed their origin stories yet again. The art by Joelle Jones is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. And Robinson continues to be incredible.
The Flintstones No. 2 (DC, $3.99) I don’t know what to make of this. It’s a retelling of the cartoon series with realistic, yes realistic, art by Steve Pugh. I find it creepy, but it’s selling so what do I know?
They did the same thing with a bunch of other Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. If you’re interested in seeing what a realistic Scooby-Do looks like, you’re in luck.
The Lone Ranger / Green Hornet No. 2 (Dynamite, $3.99) I love this book, really love it. It’s been long established that the Green Hornet was the nephew of the Lone Ranger, but nothing was ever done about it. Until now. Set in the era of the Great Depression, the Lone Ranger is still alive and kicking. He wants his nephew to take up his mask and fight crime, but Britt Reid has his own ideas. He wants to be his own man, the Green Hornet. Writer Michael Uslan, the producer of all of the Batman movies starting with the Tim Burton ones, makes these characters real and vital and I can’t wait to see how this masked rivalry plays out.Giovanni Timpano is an excellent artist who makes the series a pleasure to read.
“Secondhand Heroes” (Dial, 10.99) is a superhero story for young readers that is so good that adults will enjoy it as well. Written and illustrated with watercolors by Justin LaRocca Hansen, the graphic
novel is a clever story of two boys that feels a little like an American Harry Potter adventure, if Harry lived in the suburbs.
The adventurous brothers, Tucker and Hudson, live in a typical suburb where everyone is mindful of the strange man who lived alone in a typical house. When the man died, the contents of the house were sold at a yard sale and the boys pick up two ordinary objects: a long, multi-colored scarf and an umbrella. And as things happen in these kinds of stories, it turns out that the old man was a wizard and the items are enchanted.
Tucker and Hudson soon realize that the umbrella allows the holder to fly and the scarf responds to the wearers commands and can stretch to great lengths. So they do what any red-blooded comic book reading brothers would do, they try to fight crime as Stretch and Brella.
They are soon transported into a magical kingdom where, with the aid of an intelligent, talking squirrel and a dragon, they try to overcome the evil ruler.
The dialogue is solid, the story is much better than it sounds, and it has a great twist ending.
Can’t ask for much more than that.