George Pérez is writing a story that George Pérez would love to draw. Except there’s only one George Pérez. Luckily, Pérez is providing breakdowns for the story to Jesús Merino, who has learned a thing or two about detail and drawing through osmosis (Merino was the longtime inker of Carlos Pacheco before shifting into a penciler in his own right). The two are working well together, and this issue is keenly detailed. Pérez’s cover work is enough to draw me in alone, but the breakdowns and dynamic page layouts make this book an enjoyable visual collection.
Merino’s art is scratchier, thanks to his use of cross-hatching and simple line work to present shadow and texture. The resulting appearance is a little more cluttered than I would like to see in a Superman title, but with this story powering it, it works.
While Grant Morrison and Rags Morales are telling the tale of Superman’s early adventures in this relaunched DC Universe, Pérez and Merino are giving us “current day” fare. This Superman is a little more grumpy than I’m accustomed to and a lot more withdrawn from those around him. What is presented as arrogance in the “Justice League” comes across more as isolation in this story. With General Lane bearing down on Superman for being a magnet for attacking aliens, that isolation gets elevated as Superman is facing a foe he cannot perceive.
The crux of the story reminds me a bit of the Psi-Phon and Dreadnaught story from the old Jerry Ordway tales back after Superman was rebooted following “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Superman is convinced that he can’t see his enemy, but, being Superman, he figures out a way around that challenge. Pérez delivers a smart story that becomes more than a simple one-note attack but, unfortunately, Pérez does a lot of having Superman narrate (through caption boxes) the action being presented on the page.
Brian Buccellato’s colors are perfectly suited for superheroic adventures, especially this one that is tinged with science-fiction oddness. The star map that Superman is studying on the first two pages shines with such ambiance that I found myself believing a chart of such nature would truly look just like this. If only there were a planetarium in my area that had such a feature.
George Pérez and Jesús Merino are delivering a fun Superman story with a twist of a mystery and a bit of adventure, but they’re doing it with a very mopey Superman. The challenges they’ve brought to the Man of Steel to this point have been interesting enough to actually allow some doubt and surprise to creep in, but in the end, this is a Superman comic. You’re going to get everything you expect, just to varying degrees. For one, I’m enjoying this book and look forward to how this all pulls together for Superman and the denizens of Metropolis.