Overview

Superman #677

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Superman #677

Credits

  • Words: James Robinson
  • Art: Renato Guedes
  • Inks: Wilson Magalhaes
  • Colors: Hi-Fi
  • Story Title: The Coming of Atlas Part 1 (of 4): The World on His Shoulders
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2008

While Superman plays frisbee with Krypto in outer space, a new threat arrives in Metropolis. Fortunately, there is a new guy there to stop it. Well, maybe fortunately is too presumptuous.

When I read Face the Face, the One Year Later story in Batman and Detective Comics, I had no idea who James Robinson was. What a difference 17 comics can make. I am talking about the 17 issues recently collected in Starman Omnibus Volume 1. That comic is good stuff. One of the things I truly missed out on when I stopped reading comics in the nineties. This amped up my desire to check out what Johns had planned with this whole Super-book crossover.

Robinson checks in with his first issue and pretty much schools everybody on how to do comic book exposition. We open with Superman taking a break with Hal Jordan throwing a frisbee to Krypto. Hal, of course, wants to talk about the absurdity of what they are doing, Superman won’t hear it, certainly a Green Lantern has done weirder things. Meanwhile, back in Metropolis a monster is ravaging the city and the new head of the Science Police is unsure what to do. Enter Atlas, but is he friend or foe? Hey, I spent $2.99, so can you!

Seriously, the introduction of Superman in this way gets us to see just how special he is. The narration from Green Lantern, Krypto and the SP leader allow for us to have different perspectives of Kal-El and the different kind of reactions he can illicit from affection, to tempered respect, and finally fearful awe. Along the way, Robinson employs an omniscient and third person narrative that is simply stupefying in its clarity and mastery.

The other thing he does here is introduce us to two characters out of the cold and makes us care about them. First there is the SP officer, Travis Duberry. He is in this a little over his head and he knows it. His narration is thoughtful and compelling. I can’t wait to watch this guy unfold in subsequent issues. The other is the new meta-powered guy, Atlas. There is a mystery there that is not fully unfolded, but we are shown right away that he is a hot head and may be as powerful as old Supes. This is a trick that has proven to be difficult recently. Don’t wait to make us fear him, do it right away, it works better that way.

This is by no means a perfect comic though. There are a couple of odd moments. First, Superman’s voice is a little off. He comes off a little childish instead of boy scoutish. It is, of course, a fine line to walk, and I can only assume that as Robinson gets more comfortable with the book it will be more natural, but in this issue, I agree with Hal’s assessment that Clark is a little too naive. The other is the mask that Superman is wearing in space. Is this a breathing apparatus? Has there been some kind of status quo change in Superman that I am not aware of? What happened to the guy who just flies into space at will? Or is Robinson taking extra care and realizes that the only way Supes can make sound is with an atmosphere? If so, it is confusing, because my suspension of disbelief is already turned on for that impossibility.

Guedes is that prototypical DC guy. He is extremely confident, detailed in the lines and possesses the ability to convey action and emotion well. He is also referencing an iconic type Superman here. Not going with the photo referenced Christopher Reeve route of Frank in Action Comics, Guedes is going for that Jurgens style nineties Man of Steel who floats effortlessly above the ground, looking all masculine. It is a nice touch to a very well scripted book.

Referencing an obscure but ignored development in 52 with the Science Police, Robinson just puts the icing on this red and blue cake. With the length of this arc, maybe Robinson is going to also show everyone that a story should just be its proper length, trades can just adjust in size. I was anticipating this one and for the most part it delivers, here is hoping that this ride is the thrill I think it will be.

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