Superman #686 Review
I picked this up on a whim last week and have only now forced myself to read it. I’m glad I did. I followed Superman for years after his Death in 1992-93, which brought me firmly into comics. Then I gave up on his books, only following his latest adventures in JLA or Superman/Batman. Then Geoff Johns did wonders with the character, specifically with his re-introduction of Braniac. Now Superman is leaving earth, and his own title. Or titles. As of this issue, Superman will not be appearing in his titular series, or in Action Comics. He’ll be replaced in the latter by the new crimefighting team of Flamebird and Nightwing, and in this issue we learn who’ll become the new “Superman.” Or Supermen. As was the case in the awesome World Without A Superman storyline that lasted almost a year after his death, DC proved just how strong his supporting cast is, and do so again here. As Supes makes a new home on New Krypton, he’s filled in by Mon-El, his similarly powered hero, and returning heroes The Guardian and Steel, who both played a big part after Supes’ death. Supes appears in flashback cameos as he says his farewells and goes on his recruitment drive. Mon-El gets a secret identity, in Jonathan Kent, taking the name of Clark’s recently deceased father, and beats up on female baddie Rampage, while realising he’s got a lot to learn about superheroics. It’s awesome to see Steel and Guardian back, if purely for sentimental reasons. John Henry Irons is a great character and held his own series for years, but hasn’t been much of a player in the DCU lately.
Writer James Robinson knows these characters, though unfortunately Superman’s goodbyes to his long-time friends seem rushed. There is a lot to set up here however in this bold new direction. Renato Guedes’ art is as gorgeous as I’ve come to expect. The Mon-El/Rampage battling free-fall double page spread is rendered exquisitely and David Curiel’s washed out colours compliment the bright skies and cityscapes perfectly.
I had my doubts that Superman’s absence could continue the strength of this title, but so far things are looking up. For newbies, this is the place to start. It’s a great new beginning for a trio of heroes, as well as readers who haven’t visited Metropolis in a while.