PLUS: A SPOILER-FREE review of the premiere issue…
When DC announced that it would be producing a Superman ’78 comic, I was overjoyed — and wrote that this is really the only comic about the Man of Steel I’ve ever wanted to read.
That’s not hyperbole either. Even though there have been plenty of Superman stories I’ve loved over the years, none have moved me like the version played by Christopher Reeve and directed by Richard Donner.
So I was pleased to see that in Tuesday’s Issue #1, DC included a tribute to Donner, who died in July at the age of 91:
Naturally, they included Donner’s affinity for the word “verisimilitude,” which speaks to his whole attitude toward creating Superman: get it right, treat it with respect, make it as if it were real.
It’s a concept that the miniseries’ creative team — writer Robert Venditti, artist Wilfredo Torres and colorist Jordie Bellaire — is clearly taking seriously, as well. Superman ’78 #1 isn’t just another Superman comic — it’s a comic about a very specific version of the Man of Steel, and so far the crew has gotten it right, treating this iteration with respect and making it as if it were a bona fide sequel to Donner’s version.
Without giving anything of substance away, the story — “Brainiac” — opens with a flashback to the destruction of Krypton but we quickly learn that there’s more to what we saw on screen 40-plus years ago. We then move quickly to Metropolis, which bears the hallmarks of ’70s New York, and some quick banter between Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Naturally, things go sideways quickly and both Clark and, eventually, Superman, have to jump into action.
Unlike some of the writers of DC’s Batman ’66 comic who at times had trouble eliciting that show’s particular brand of satire, Venditti nails Clark and Lois’ voices and seizes the Donner zeitgeist. Torres is a complementary partner: With an economy of linework, he not only captures the actors’ likenesses, he conveys their body language. That last aspect is particularly tricky because so often comics based on a film or TV show can look static, as if the artist worked strictly from stills.
Jordie Bellaire’s colors enhance the look of the book, as well, especially where Superman himself is concerned; the Man of Steel’s palette is note perfect.
Like most first issues, what we get is mostly set-up, but it moves so quickly that I was surprised when I hit the last page. I actually went back to see if I’d missed anything, but I hadn’t. I was just absorbed — and eager to find out what happens next.
That augurs great things for this six-issue miniseries, which to this point is a worthy successor to Donner’s vision — an exercise in, yes, verisimilitude.
— Finally! Dig this FIRST INSIDE LOOK at SUPERMAN ’78 #1. Click here.
— The SUPERMAN ’78/BATMAN ’89 Comic Book Index. Click here.