Review: Superman #4

O' Superman Where Art Thou?

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

There are few comics more emblematic of DC's new 52 than the Superman series by George Perez and artist Jesus Merino. It's pointless, convoluted and boring as hell. 

For an artist who happens to rank among the best in comics, Perez seems incredibly off of his game while writing this series. I'm all for strong characterization in comics, but endless conversations that drag on and on is not the way to go. It doesn't make anyone look good when every character is all talk and little action.

Superman's supporting cast is iconic in their own right, but they exist in this series only as paper-thin avatars for the writer to comment on either Clark Kent or Superman. They don't seem to have any life to them at all; which makes them seem just as empty as the alien elemental adversaries.

Picking up where we left off last issue, Superman is in the local police station being grilled by cops about the disappearance of Heather Kelley, a colleague of Clark Kent's whom even Superman believes that he might have killed while trying to defeat the Ice Elemental that possessed her and engulfed the city. And the cops grill Superman like it's his fault! Once again, the New 52 status quo of the public not trusting superheroes rears its ugly head. The suspicion leveled towards Superman from the cops and the general public feels completely out of place in this new world. It's like the comic has been transported to the mirror universe from Star Trek and we're all stuck with the alternate versions of our favorite superheroes.

It's impossible to care about Heather Kelley when she can be summed up in three words: "blonde Lois Lane." With the actual Lois Lane kicked upstairs to the editorial position, Heather appears to be  the surrogate love interest for Clark. But again, without any real character development; Kelley might as well be made of cardboard. And words can't properly express just how insufferable the talk show host. Billy McCoy is. He's like the anti-Superman Glenn Beck analog that nobody asked for. Superman has had his in-universe detractors before, but the entire tone of this story just doesn't seem to fit him.

And as for Superman himself, Perez dives back into the trope of thought balloons… lots and lots of thought balloons. So many, that it's suddenly clear why thought balloons are rarely used outside of thought captions. The excess balloons clutter up the artwork and there's even a panel that just features an empty alley and Superman's thought balloon! Clark Kent/Superman also comes off more like a mopey amateur as opposed to the world's greatest superhero. Grant Morrison is already dealing with Superman's early years in Action Comics; which makes it even tougher to buy into his characterization here. It literally seems like two completely different visions of the character with no correlation despite how much DC wants us to believe that it's a unified narrative. 

The one upside about the book is that Jesus Merino provided some really good looking pages. Merino is bogged down by the constant text and the panel heavy pages, but his figures are sharp and his storytelling is clear. Perez is no longer credited on the breakdowns, so if Merino is on his own now than he seems to be ready to handle the load.

But his art isn't dynamic enough to pull this book out of its tailspin. I keep trying to give this relaunch a chance, but this comic has become a chore to read.

I don't even know what this is anymore, but it's not Superman.

Crave Online Rating: 3/10