After a lot of press and publicity, the actual launch of DC's newest digital-first title snuck in rather quietly in the form of "Adventures of Superman" #1 by writer Jeff Parker with art from Chris Samnee. This talented duo has proven worthy of readers' attention and their first collaboration with the Man of Steel is certainly an enjoyable one.
With twenty screens (essentially equivalent to 10 printed pages) of story, Jeff Parker doesn't have much time to introduce readers to his take on Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Ma and Pa Kent or too many other supporting cast members, so he focuses on the important things: Superman's powers, his dedication to use them for good and Lex Luthor's limitless grudge against the Last Son of Krypton. Parker gives Superman enough panel space to flex his muscles, but leaves Superman at a superficial level, on par with the character's depth from the Fleischer-era cartoons -- not a bad thing. Readers still get what most Superman fans want: Superman flying, fighting and saving the day. The one thing that proves hard for me to accept is Luthor's proximity to the battle and Superman's inability or indifference to do anything about it. Surely his super-hearing might come into play in this instance. At any rate, it's less a catastrophe and more just a speedbump in a really enjoyable, fast-moving adventure.
I'm not sure how Chris Samnee manages to produce so much work (this, "Daredevil" and "Rocketeer" spring immediately to mind) at the same time, but I am very glad he does. I can never get enough of Samnee's incomparable art. Very few artists can make their style work for any and every story, and Samnee is one of those rarities. His drawings of Superman flying through buildings as a result of a super-powered punch are every bit as solid and believable as his drawings of the men sitting in the bar that Superman crashes into. Samnee captures the action and motion fluidly and his heavier use of shadows helps that fluidity. Of course Samnee's art is masterfully illuminated by the coloring of Matthew Wilson. The duo work together quite frequently and their work is always wonderful to gaze upon. The "Violent Minds" story receives another visual boost from Wes Abbott's letters. Abbott makes super-adversary Leon Torsik's dialog stressful and pain-filled. As Superman struggles against Torsik's telekinesis, Abbott adds a blur to the text, making it seem as though the Man of Steel just might be straining through clenched teeth.
Parker and Samnee get the ball rolling quite nicely. I can't wait to see more from this duo, as "Adventures of Superman" #1 does a great job of delivering exactly what I want to see in Superman comics in a convenient package at a nice price. I want more of this. Now. Of course, I'll probably buy the print edition when that hits the racks too.