This past week has found me thinking about Superman a lot more than I normally do. I’ve thought about the character, the creative teams, and the story arcs. The approach to the New 52 Superman has offered fans an interesting take on the character. It’s impressive that we are already up to issue 42, considering that not many titles get to enjoy those numbers as they are constantly rebooted. With DC’s current lineup, post-Convergence, many thought we’d be getting a major face lift to the DC slate of comic titles; we didn’t. Instead, we now have a more coherent plot than ever before that actively honors the New 52 history. This Wednesday, July 29, saw the release of Superman issue 42 and with it we get another terrific issue by Gene Yang and John Romita Jr.
“Before Truth” part two continues the story of how Clark Kent was outed as Superman and lost his powers. It’s an interesting approach to the “Truth” storyline that DC has taken to the current Superman story arc. We have Action Comics, Batman Superman, and Superman Wonder Woman take place in a time after this story, with the Yang plotted story serving as a prequel of sorts to the overall saga. If you’ve found the stories contending with Superman dealing with his public outing interesting, then you’ll probably enjoy this particular issue. What makes “Before Truth” part two work so well is that it feels very much like the heart of the “Truth” storyline. Not more than 2 pages into the story does Lois Lane finally reveal to Clark that she knows he’s the Man of Steel. It’s one of the best moments for Lois Lane in the New 52 and also showcases Romita Jr’s strongest work for the female reporter. By the time she rips off Clark’s shirt to reveal his true identity, there’s such an emotional punch that we understand why she’s so upset with him. Yang’s characterization feels closer in tone to what Amy Adams did with the character in 2013’s Man of Steel. She’s a smart, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, and that she was never able to piece together that Clark is Superman has always seemed a little far-fetched. We now understand that Lois has been busy conducting her own private investigation into Clark Kent since he first arrived at the same time as Superman. “You’re Superman! Why would you want to be normal?” she asks to which Clark replies, “…I just do.”
Superman issue 42 takes us to a dimension that sort of reminds us of John Romita Jr’s Dimension Z from the Marvel Now Captain America run. Instead, as depicted in Superman, the Hordr_Plex is a more idyllic yet tyrannical utopia. We learn that Superman’s new villain, following in the tradition of Ulysses, is Hordr_Root. The techno villain/terrorist is an interesting choice as he helps Yang and Romita Jr. reevaluate what exactly The Man of Tomorrow means for a modern audience. It’s a clever approach that works and reminds readers that this Superman is about going forward.
In keeping with Superman going forward we have a new character named Condessa in the series. She is both ally and foil for Clark and works well within this story arc. I would like to say that when compared to Greg Pak’s Lee Lambert of Action Comics, the character of Condessa could be better written. With her being such a freshly created character, let’s give it time. Lois Lane does fill the strong woman role in Superman 42 and it’s greatly rewarding as it’s a hint that we may finally get a return to the classic character before the New 52.
Superman 42 is well done issue. It feels as if we’re getting somewhere, with the mystery of how Clark Kent’s life is ruined through his public outing, why he lost his powers, and why we still refer to him as The Man of Tomorrow. Gene Yang is doing a fantastic job with keeping the Superman solo series alive and energetic in Geoff Johns’ wake, Here’s to a 43 issue next month!
Superman 42 is out now and gets three stars.
Superman (2011-) #42
Writer: Yang, Gene Luen
Artist: Romita, John
Cover Artist: Romita, John
On Sale July 29, 2015
Publisher DC Comics
Diamond Id: MAY150181