Monday, May 10, 2010

Free Comic Book Day 2010: War of the Supermen #0

War of the Supermen #0, DC Comics
by James Robinson, Sterling Gates, Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer, Rob Reis, John J. Hill

Who cares about Superman?

I mean, really? Superman is to comics like The Simpsons is to South Park -- just when you think you've thought of something new for a superhero to experience, you realize Superman has already done it. First of all, he's comics' first orphan, so the whole "avenge me" theme is taken -- and technically was before even Batman, as you can say Supes' heroism is his attempt to make sure another planet isn't destroyed under the weight of its own ignorance. Further, how many times has Clark Kent's identity nearly been compromised? That story's been done to death. The love triangle? The fallen teammate? The reformed nemesis? Death itself? Superman's been there, done that . . . and survived, not only as a franchise, but as the first and most well known superhero of all time. So, why should I care about him? No matter what you throw at the Man of Steel, I know he'll pull through.

Enter War of the Supermen.

I haven't read a Superman title in years, but based on this Free Comic Book Day preview, I understand that the bottle city of Kandor recently burst from the bottle and a full fledged civilization again, somehow ruled by Superman's enemy, General Zod. Therein lies a blatant defiance of one of Kal-El's trademark characteristics -- he is no longer unique. Sure, readers were introduced to Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, a few super cats and horses and monkeys here and there, but Superman was really the one and only of his kind, an alpha male with god-like powers among men. Zod and the thousands of other Kandorians now affected by Earth's yellow sun diminishes that strength completely! When everyone else is super, too -- you're really just a man, Superman.

Now, these Kryptonians are waging war on Earth. Even the Justice League has just one Superman, so what hope do they have against an army? And will Superman be willing to take the life of a fellow Kryptonian in battle, knowing every casualty marks one more step toward his being an endangered species -- again? Perhaps that's what's best, after all -- not so much "a world without a Superman," but a world with only one Superman, the one with the moral compass that points in humanity's favor.

This free zero issue doesn't address these questions directly. No, it's just the launching pad for the inevitable multi-title epic assured to consume the Superman titles this summer. Sure, Zod and Supes bandy about punches and philosophies, but asute readers can tell some crises of conscience are on the horizon, and with writer James Robinson at the helm, I hope the best is yet to come. Yes, I'm interested. I actually care about Superman again.

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