DC’s New 52, well, it was something of a mess. There were a handful of good relaunches and some efforts to branch out in other directions, but for many, the ditching of the company’s long and rich past for something new and flashy just didn’t work too well. DC’s current attempts to rectify that situation with the “DC Rebirth” appears to be a step in the right direction. They even renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics back to their original numbering system.
So, I got a few Rebirth trades. Let’s see how they turned out, starting with the original superhero in his original book, Superman in Action Comics.
A little background is needed: the New 52 Superman died and his secret identity was revealed to the general public. The pre-Flashpoint Superman somehow showed up on this Earth with his wife Lois Lane and his son Jon, soon to be Superboy. After the Forever Evil storyline, Lex Luthor managed to even join the Justice League and after the Superman he knew died, he took it upon himself to wear the S-shield and cape with his Mother Box-powered armor as a new Superman, Superlex as he is sometimes called.
Though the older Superman was mostly operating in secret, seeing his oldest enemy (or an alternate version of him) wearing his symbols sets him off. Will the two get along? Probably not, but Superman is still Superman, and when Doomsday shows up, Superman will toss aside all of his Luthor problems to deal with the monster that once killed him.
The theme of returns is strong with this volume. Not only is a more classic Superman back, but so is longtime Superman writer (and Doomsday creator) Dan Jurgens. Jurgens may not be the strongest writer of the Man of Steel from that era (I would argue that would be Roger Stern), but he can plot a strong, exciting series. As it is, this volume mostly represents Jurgens setting up future storylines, and while characters like the New 52 Wonder Woman (who had a romantic relationship with the New 52 Superman) are very accepting of an unfamiliar Superman and fall easily into familiar roles, others like Luthor are a different story. And then there’s the fact that a fully human Clark Kent is also running around trying to cover the story while denying to everyone he’s also Superman, and there’s the mystery man who seems to have plans for Superman, Clark, and Doomsday. Perhaps the most creative things done were how Jurgens actually had Superman attempt a move or two that many have wondered about from the initial fight, i.e. when Kurt Busiek used Astro City to suggest Superman could have just tossed Doomsday into the sun. It turns out plans like that don’t work out so well in execution, though Superman clearly planned ahead on these things this time around.
Truth be told, the volume is mostly one long brawl between Superman and Doomsday with assists from Lex and Wonder Woman. There may be better stuff in the future, but it isn’t here yet. Seven and a half mystery mercenaries out of ten.