Superman Confidential #1


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Superman Confidential #1


  • Words: Darwyn Cooke
  • Art: Tim Sale
  • Inks: Tim Sale
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: Kryptonite
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 1, 2006

In a tale out of Superman’s past, the newly minted hero is taking his successes in stride while worrying what (if anything) could bring him down. The secret lies in wait.

Initially the Superman and Batman Confidential titles were meant to pair popular writers with less well-known artists and vice versa all the while telling in-canon stories of the pasts of these two heroes. While the titles may yet morph into that format this opening story arc features two powerhouses – Darwyn Cooke, known for his success with the New Frontier mini-series and Tim Sale, known for his frequent collaborations with writer Jeph Loeb on mini-series such as Batman: The Long Halloween and Daredevil: Yellow. Both writer and artist here are familiar with telling tales of heroes’ early days so this issue should be a home run right out of the park... right?

The rocket containing baby Kal-El speeds away from the dying planet Krypton but something else travels alongside the rocket – something familiar and yet different... Cut through the years to Metropolis, two months after Superman’s debut. The Man of Steel handles a battle with the Royal Flush Gang then faces a different challenge as Clark Kent. Daily Planet editor Perry White is on a crusade against a casino in the city. His knights are three incorruptible, unbuyable members of his staff: Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Clark Kent. Just what threat does this casino hold for the city? Worse for Clark, stuck on 12-hour stakeouts, how will he slip off to be Superman when he’s needed?

Writer Darwyn Cooke usually has a Midas touch when it comes to scripts – each story he touches turns to gold. Here, regretfully, it looks like the gold is only plating. Cooke has a great grasp of each of the characters – Lois Lane is tough and sharp but without the witchiness some writers give her. Clark Kent/Superman is earnest, wearing his heart on his sleeve and Perry White is just what you would expect from a good, honest editor. There are some great moments scattered throughout the issue, coupled with sharp, witty dialogue that fizzes like fine champagne. But those moments and that dialogue are just not enough. The biggest problem dragging the story down is that it is too decompressed. After the reader finishes you look back and realize that nothing really happened. Sure, first issues are usually all about the set-up but readers should also be given some idea of where the story is headed and that is missing here. We have a casino in trouble, we have the Royal Flush Gang, but what does this all have to do with Kryptonite? Who is the villain? What is the threat? What are the stakes? There are too many questions and not enough clues to hint at answers.

Artist Tim Sale breaks free of his usual Jeph Loeb collaboration to team up with Cooke for this arc. In actuality, there are probably few other writers perfectly suited to mesh with Sale’s style than Cooke. Sale’s work evokes feelings of the past and yet a timelessness as well. His figures have a smooth sophistication and style that put one in mind of some of the great movie classics of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

As it stands, Superman Confidential has the potential to be an interesting story. It is hard not to love anything with a team like Cooke and Sale attached to it but currently the decompressed nature of this tale is getting in the way. As much as I hate to say it, this may be one story arc that will read better once it is collected in trade.

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