This week John Romita, Jr. makes his DC Comics debut with Superman, and Robert Kirkman brings us the next hit indie book with Outcast!
Superman #32 (DC Comics)
Arguably the character that has been in the most dire need of a solid creative team since the New 52 relaunch has been Superman. Since Grant Morrison finished his Action Comics run with issue #18, the main Superman books have been in a constant state of flux creatively (Superman Unchained aside, of course).
Well, along comes Mr. Geoff Johns to take over the main Superman title. And who does he bring with him? John Romita Jr., in his first official monthly DC Comics work. There’s a lot of hype surrounding Marvel’s former golden boy making the jump to DC (and Johns returning to Superman after a stellar pre-52 Action Comics run), so, how does Superman #32 stack up?
Pretty well actually! Much of the plot is setting the groundwork for what’s to come in John’s and Romita, Jr.’s storyline, but it’s all pretty entertaining. A lot of this set up feels like putting some pieces back together though. For a few years now Clark has been his own man, running a news blog after quitting the Daily Planet. Well, in this issue Johns has Perry White calling Clark Kent back and requesting him to return to work at the Planet. There’s a heavy focus on Jimmy Olsen as well, and having Clark return to the Planet obviously gives Johns an easier time to focus on the Olsen subplot. As for main plot of the story? Well, I’m purposefully going to leave that vague as I know a lot of people eagerly anticipating this book and don’t want to know anything about it.
I will say though that Johns’ incredible gift for characterization and plotting is once again in fine form here. He’s one of the few writers who knows how to write Superman, and the scenes where Clark takes Perry’s advice and tries to talk to his fellow heroes about his personal life are pretty touching, and actually kind of sad as well (but really, what’s he expecting to get from Batman?). These moments are perfectly placed amongst some awesome action scenes, which allow John Romita, Jr to really shine.
Speaking of JR JR, I have to say; his art is pretty damn killer in this issue. I’ve been very critical of his work in the past, but you can definitely tell that he’s putting his all into these pages. There are a few design choices that are a little strange, but man, the pages where Superman is letting loose are absolutely fantastic. DC is definitely getting their money’s worth from Romita, Jr. Now let’s just hope that he’s got enough pages already completed so we don’t get any delays.
Superman fans, this is the book you’ve been waiting for. While it’s too early to declare Superman #32 as the start of a new Superman masterpiece, it’s definitely worth your $3.99. With one issue, Superman has gone from a passable DC title to one to definitely keep your eye on. With any luck, Johns and Romita, Jr. can restore the Man of Steel to his former glory.
Outcast #1 (Image Comics)
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman shines a light on demonic possession with Outcast, his new creator owned title with artist Paul Azaceta. Kyle Barnes has been a victim of demons his entire life. First his mother was possessed, then his wife. Now, after years of living on his own estranged from those he loves, he’s called upon by a local priest to help him save the soul of a young boy. But the demon that’s controlling this child knows more about Kyle than he expects, and now Kyle Barnes needs to find out why he’s been a target his whole life.
From the first page of Outcast, I was hooked and spooked at the same time. While I don’t get scared easily, the one thing that does mess with me is the idea of demonic possession (I have yet to make it through The Exorcist, and I even tried watching it in broad daylight on TV once). Kirkman does an excellent job building the mystery behind Kyle Barnes throughout the issue. Kyle Barnes is a broken man haunted by his past, and Kirkman’s script does an excellent job of making you feel for Barnes and want the same answers that he does.
Also doing an excellent job is Paul Azaceta. His art is probably the #1 reason why I’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight. There are certain panels in this issue with the young possessed boy that are downright chilling, and the sense of dread that Kirkman puts into his script are only heightened when paired with Azaceta’s art. Already this is a pairing that is as good as the ones between Kirkman and Ryan Ottley or Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, and if the work Azaceta has done in this issue is any indication, I won’t be sleeping much whenever a new issue comes out.
Outcast is an awesome introductory issue, and being double sized and only $2.99 only sweetens the deal. However, it’s extremely creepy, so those that may not be all that into the idea of demonic possession may want to skip it. But even those people should consider giving this book a shot, because it’s so well done. If I’m going to be scared every month, I’d want it to be done by these guys. Bravo gents. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go check under my bed.
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