Welcome to #1 Comic of the Week, a series where our comics editor, Susana Polo, tips you off to a neat new story or series that kicked off in comics this week — just in time for some weekend reading.
This week marks a new era in Superman comics, making it the best time to get in on the ground floor. Man of Steel #1 isn’t just the beginning of a new miniseries, but the beginning of a new artistic team and the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes upheaval for Superman and the comics world.
It all started in November of 2017, when DC Comics announced that veteran Marvel Comics writer/architect Brian Michael Bendis had accepted an exclusive contract with DC. The creator of Jessica Jones and Miles Morales — the writer who’d given Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Daredevil and the Avengers themselves a new lease on life — would be picking up his pen and writing for DC Comics for essentially the first time.
Almost immediately afterward, the Superman “office” and DC Comics garnered attention for a very different reason: The company fired Superman group editor Eddie Berganza after the publication of a Buzzfeed report in which multiple women publicly accused the long-time DC Comics employee of sexual misconduct. Berganza’s behavior had been an open secret in the comics industry for years, and was rumored to have prevented women from working in the Superman office (which also oversees the Wonder Woman and Supergirl titles).
The Superman books had a new editor for the first time since 2012, and in February of 2018, DC announced exactly what Brian Michael Bendis would be doing at the company. He was going to take the reins on both core Superman titles, Superman and Action Comics, effectively becoming the architect of the Metropolis setting. And his tenure would kick off with a stand-alone six-issue miniseries called Man of Steel, with one issue being released weekly through May, June and July.
That first issue of Man of Steel is available right now, and it’s got everything you could want in the first issue of a new story.
Plot-wise, Man of Steel #1 leaves more questions open than it answers. Bendis’ new alien villain, Rogol Zaar, claims that Krypton wasn’t destroyed by unchecked natural forces, as we always thought, but by his own hand. But we only have his word for it. At the Daily Planet, Lois Lane is conspicuously missing — Perry White says she quit to write a book, but Clark’s behavior certainly suggests that there’s something more — and a new go-getting reporter with dark intentions has taken her place. (Well, we saw that part in May’s DC Nation #0, which you can still pick up for absolutely free.)
But don’t get worried that the issue is all about big alien threats and mysteries. Sure, Bendis and artist Ivan Reis give us the low down on Rogol Zaar’s anti-Kryptonian vendetta, but a large chunk of the issue is wisely used as a quiet character sketch. It’s just the first issue, and we already know that Bendis’ Superman is a deeply loving mind who wields the powers of a god, and his Clark Kent is a reporter who dedicates himself to finding and speaking the truth.
“Writing Superman in today’s day and age is a such powerful experience,” Bendis told Forbes when Man of Steel was announced. “We live in a world where we’ve heard, ‘Truth, justice, and the American way’ our whole lives, right? But this is the first time those things are really not to be taken for granted. Truth has been revealed to not be as black and white as we thought it was; justice is sadly not always for everybody; and the American Dream, the American way of everybody coming here to pursue the idea that they can live a safe and healthy life — these are ideas we always took for granted, but now we don’t. No matter where you are politically, we just don’t take these things for granted anymore.
“And now I think it’s time Superman stand up and give us that hope we always want from him. It’s a great thing to be writing a character who exudes hope at a time when people really, really need it.”
So where to start in comics this week? Pick up Man of Steel #1, and follow along with #2 next week.