Page 45 Review by Stephen
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke
Under any circumstances that is a mighty fine sentence and indeed sentiment: stand up and be counted or stay sitting still in the shadows while you wait for the bigots and other assorted bastards to come for you next.
But as an explanation of the altruistic intervention of costumed superheroes at their own peril, it is exceptional. Gold stars to Tomasi and / or Gleason for selecting it to kick off this collection; gravitational black stars for failing to credit the statesman. It's common courtesy, yes?
Both bigotry and a degree of black-star gravitational pull will be exerting their influence here in the form of a once-familiar irritant from the days of THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN immediately following THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Indeed it's that very era from nearly 25 years ago that is most referenced in the prologue. And it did my head in.
This is the first collection of the brand-new, original DC superhero universe, reborn now that the four-year 'DC New 52' sabbatical is no more. Did you understand that sentence? No. That is why superhero comics will never be Mainstream.
Supposedly, this is DC starting once again from scratch so that new readers who may be that way inclined may decide to jump in and jump on. Perhaps this one worked on new readers but I - admittedly only a casual visitor to the DC Universes - was left shaking my head, bewildered. This is a shame because once you've skipped the first chapter of mind-frazzling continuity mish-mash there is a brand-new dynamic with plenty of potential.
Superman is dead. I don't think it was the original Superman. I think the original Superman is the bloke with the beard hoping that the last one will spring back to life. He doesn't. We move on.
Clark Kent is now living a quietly concealed, bucolic life on a farm similar to the one Ma and Pa Kent raised him on. He is married to Lois Lane who's still a journalist but working from home under a pseudonym. Quite how much investigation this investigative journalist can accomplish from the cornfields is uncertain but that need not concern us now. They have a son called Jonathan (half-human, half-Kryptonian) whose existence or at least nature he has concealed from Batman and Wonder Woman. Basically, they are deeper undercover than ever.
The boy is in his very early teens and exhibiting all the lethal powers that his Dad possesses without the fine-tuning to target them with finesse. That is something which both Lois and Clark are determined to teach him in time with due care and attention. But in superhero comics there is never the time, care nor due attention - only emergencies.
There is a domestic emergency which back-fires on the boy painfully, then there is one bursting inconveniently from their past to scour them: more precisely, to scour the dirty human heritage from their child's genetic makeup. I told you there was bigotry to behold.
On the plus side: the art by many was surprisingly consistent with a very neat panel in which young Jon, when embarrassed / ashamed, hides most of his face under his sweatshirt, pulling it up over his mouth and nose. It's a psychological thing, very well observed, which I do, subconsciously, protectively, on occasion: it feels safer when you sink your soul beneath cotton.
I also loved the harrowing image of Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman when congregating in secret on the equivalent of the rustic farm's stoop, glimpsed by a young Jon through his window at night. The whites of their eyes are like tiny skulls: terrifying, threatening, alien and other.
And when Superman, Lois and Jonathan weren't smacking seven shades of shit out of their most rude intruder (oh yes, Lois proves inventive / adaptive) in a surprising environment not of their own making, the family dynamic and its desire to nurture their son's nature is heart-warming.
It's just a shame about the repetitive, seven-shades-of-shit-smacking which goes on for eons and interests me not one jot.
More family, please!