Best Shots Review: SUPERMAN #2 'Not Afraid To Go Bigger'

"Superman #2" preview
Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)
Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)

Superman #2
Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Art by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)

The Superman that we missed for so long is back in full force. Following their spectacular run on Batman and Robin, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason prove yet again to be adept at providing a steady hand for a character who has been around for the better part of a century. In doing so, they are able to more clearly define the supporting cast and quell any concerns that this writer had about the circumstances surrounding the death of the family cat leading to potential dark turn. Other writers have said that one of the strengths of a good Superman story is being able to expand anything to an impossibly epic scale. The creative team played things fairly conservatively in their first issue, but it’s clear from this sophomore effort that they aren’t afraid to go bigger.

Tomasi and Gleason’s pacing is one of the biggest strengths of this title. Many writers have spoken about how they weave multiple plots together so that just as one wraps, a subplot is able to become the main focus. What we’ve gotten so far in Superman is Tomasi and Gleason showing us the big picture concept for the title and then paring it down in order to pay off the smaller plots that help build the foundation for the book. Overall, he does this successfully and it allows him to develop each of the character's voices, particularly that of young Jon Kent, who already sounds much more organic and human than in previous installments of the Superman: Lois and Clark series.

Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)
Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)

Yet there is one stumbling block here — namely, the death of the family cat from the first issue. It seems like a weird bit to zero in on, especially given how grotesque it was, but it’s quickly swept under the rug in #2. It’s clear that Jonathan had no ill intentions, but we don’t get to see any real payoff from his confession about what happened. It’s an odd moment for Tomasi Gleason to break the “show, don’t tell” rule, and it makes the initial scene feel more like a misstep than an intentional plot point. It also takes a lot of power away from Lois Lane. Superman tells us what her reaction would be, and that’s it. Since Jonathan’s powers are a point of contention in their marriage, it would have been nice to see how all of the Kents would handle this.

Credit: Patrick Gleason (DC Comics)

With this second issue, Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz manage to make the art in Superman #1 look pedestrian by comparison. Superman is finally getting a chance to be truly super, and the art team proves once again that they can do big, bombastic action with the best of them. Gray’s inking is once again the lynchpin that keep the whole operation together, providing an excellent base for Kalisz’ colors and really enhancing Gleason’s pencils. This issue is packed with moments big and small that ask a lot of the art team but they never once waver. This issue has nuclear subs, giant squids and the Fortress of Solitude, but the really intense moments happen back on the Kent farm. The artists are able to make those smaller, more relatable moments really sing, and it provides a great counterpoint to all the big superheroing that’s going on elsewhere.

After plenty of fits, stops, relaunches and revamps, the Man of Steel is back. Tomasi and Gleason have a clear concept for the character that works on every level and provides new and exciting lenses to view him through. Lois kind of gets the short end of the stick here as it seems like they might have tried to wrap everything up a little bit too neatly from issue one but that’s hardly a grievous mistake. Despite the fact that it still feels like the team is testing the dynamics of these characters to see what they can do with them, the heart of the book remains strong. There hasn’t been this much fun in the DC Universe for some time, so it’s good to see the company returning to its roots.

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