Last week, I criticized Superman Rebirth #1 for being representative of DC’s lack of creativity. Action Comics #957 isn’t that bad, but it’s not great either.
One of my biggest complaints with the main Superman book was that when DC had a chance to do something risky and let the Superman mantle pass to someone new, they instead brought back an emo, post-Death of Superman version of the character from the ’90s. However, this book shows that’s not entirely true. Someone else actually is taking up the Man of Steel’s iconic cape and “S” symbol: Lex Luthor. In and of itself, the move is brilliant. Lex is Superman’s oldest and greatest enemy, the prospect of how he carries on and even bastardizes what Clark stood for is really exciting. Unfortunately, the issue has little time for that because Emo Clark has to swoop in and start a dick measuring contest.
Look, I get it, you don’t turn Lex Luthor into Superman without eventually making him fight Clark Kent. But maybe save that for the end of an arc instead of the first issue. Honestly, it feels a little gimmicky—and that’s true of almost everything else that happens. Two characters unexpectedly appear right at the end and both feel like the most severe fan service possible. The first is Doomsday, the very character who killed Emo Clark all those years ago. Again, maybe wait until the end of the arc before we just repeat history and play every card. The other is a little more promising. Superman Rebirth #1 told us in no uncertain terms that New 52 Clark was dead and yet who should show up to cover the epic Supermen fight for the Daily Planet but Clark Kent. It’s unclear if that Clark is indeed New 52 Clark or if he’s yet another misplaced alternate universe version of the character and I can’t decide which would be worse.
Even with that terrifying prospect, though, the weakest thing about the issue is Emo Clark. Despite their differences in age and history, Emo Clark and New 52 Clark have some similarities—the most important being their fanatical desire to keep their identities hidden. While DC had to rewrite New 52 Clark’s history and personality to justify that outlook, Emo Clark has come by it honestly, after years of struggle and even his own death. However, anyone who started reading Superman comics post-DOS knows nothing about that struggle. They’re just watching a character who’s supposed to symbolize hope beat up a guy with no incriminating evidence against him just because his alternate universe self is really evil. Because you know what the best thing about Superman always was? His inability to see past his own prejudices and believe the best of the human race. Oh wait.