Like Marvel comics has had before them, today I’m taking a look at the new DC Comics Rebirth lineup of titles announced last weekend. DC Comics attempted to reboot in the summer of 2011 with their New 52 initiative. Though initially successful, readers quickly tired of the redundant writing & art styles that was often overtly in your face with little substance and dated concepts, while creative talent left the books in droves over accusations of overreaching editorial mandates. In 2015, the publisher began walking away from the concept; first with their Convergence event whose story was used to reestablish the Multiverse and then the DC You initiative, a sincere attempt to diversify the style and creative talent on their line of books. In spite of some really great comics, DC You failed to reestablish the publisher’s already shrinking market share while the one two punch of Star Wars & Secret Wars allowed chief competitor Marvel Comics to dominate the direct market. During WonderCon 2016, DC Comics announced another new initiative with a relaunch of the publishers comics with new #1’s and creative teams for their series of titles. Some look great, some of the creators brought in during DC You have leveled up, some familiar faces are sticking around, some new writers have been brought into the fold and some comics vet’s are returning after years away from the publisher. Some books look great, some have potential, some look kind of bland and some look like hot garbage. Will divide the contenders from the pretenders with Yay, Mayhaps or Nay. As always, remember that not even all of the creative teams have been announced let alone all the possible series so this lineup is subject to change.
Since the New 52, various mainline Superman comic have been worked on by such notable comics creators as Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, Neal Adams, George Perez, Max Landis, Greg Pak, Gene Lueng Yang, Charles Soule & more. Now that we’ve reached DC Rebirth, all the work that’s been put in by countless creative talents has basically been put to rest in Superman: Rebirth #1 to bring back the old Superman pre-continuity shift and apparently, the best use of the character was to talk about the time he briefly died fighting Doomsday.
Superman: Rebirth is an exercise in tedium. It is a debut issue that seems to only exist so that the old Superman can explain why he’s here and that the new Superman might come back from the dead as he did. Peter J Tomasi is a great comics writer when he has a story to tell. The opening arc of Batman & Robin is still one of the best comics in DC’s New 52. But too often since then, his writing has primarily been editorial driven. Whether to cross over into whatever Snyder and Capullo were doing on Batman, taking on the most unnecessary of event spinoff mini-series, bringing back Damien Wayne within less then two years after the character was originally killed off by his creator or most recently closing out the New 52 iteration of Superman; Tomasi has become DC’s continuity mercenary and in Superman: Rebirth, that’s the primary purpose of his writing. Yet while Tomasi’s past foray’s into aligning editorial initiatives have at least attempted at telling a story, Superman: Rebirth has no plot whatsoever other then a conversation between Post Crisis Superman and New 52 Lana Lang and having it be a rehash of Death Of Superman, it’s hardly compelling. Artist Doug Mahnke is an interesting illustrator and some of his work here is compelling, but too often inker Jamie Mendoza and colorist Wil Quintana feel as if they’re flattening his pencils in ways that takes the edge off of Mahnke’s stylistic flourishes and renders much of the visual storytelling plain and uninspired.
Upon it’s initial announcement, Superman looked like one of the DC Rebirth titles with some potential and really, it still does. The addition of Patrick Gleason to the writing should add another dimension to the writing and his art is always among the best and most interesting at DC. But in it’s debut Rebirth issue, Superman is a limp exercise in continuity humping banality that fails to be anything more then an explanation for why the series exists as it does in the first place.