Superman: Rise of the Supermen #1 (DC)

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Rating: 2.5/5 – Clunky Story That Would Have Benefited From a Strong Editor.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Neal Adams is by far one of my favorite creators to ever have worked (and still working) in the industry. I was pleased to see that DC is currently in the middle of it’s “Neal Adams” variant cover month which Bob spoke to in his blog. These covers have been an exciting nod to his past works in fun and creative ways and like Bob with the Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues, for the many DC comics I collect, I chose the Neal Adams variants. Those variants were a showcase of Adams’ talents and could be considered a lead into his newest series, Superman: The Coming of the Supermen.

The last time Neal Adams worked on a mini-series at DC, it was Batman Odyssey. To me that series was almost unreadable, not for the art, but for the convoluted story/script. But my admiration for Adams led me to purchasing this new series despite my feelings about his last DC outing and unfortunately, the writing wasn’t much better. Superman: The Coming of the Supermen isn’t as confusing or incoherent as Odyssey was, but in some ways, the writing is just as much a mess. It opens with three “Supermen” coming down in a spaceship, wearing suits similar to our Superman who happens to be in the middle east adopting a young boy after an alien messenger tells him to do so. We also see a group of parademons attacking a LexCorp building, and an ending that rewrites what we know of the New Gods (perhaps Adams just does not know or care about DC continuity, such as it is, and no editor stepped in to make any corrections). This first issue is Silver Age-like in it’s storytelling (taking a wild premise that is not necessarily consistent with any other stories and running with it), but without any of the Silver Age charm.

The story throws a lot at the reader and that’s not helped by the choice to narrate everything but Superman’s middle east story through the broadcast of Lois Lane, which telegraphs each scene like a live news cast, makes it all much worse. I thought it was a poor and dated choice of narrating the story and it felt clunky to me as the story moves from scene to scene without much explanation, other than Lois’ commentary. The art at times has those hints of Adams’ brilliant past works like a full splash of Kalibak, or a close up on Lex Luthor’s yelling face, but there were also plenty of panels that looked rushed with scratchy/heavy pencil shading. Adams fans will want to read this just to see how his art has changed over the years, but after that there isn’t all that much to keep me around. The Coming of the Supermen is  unfortunately not Adams at his best, but that’s mostly so because of the writing.  This issue would have benefited greatly from an editor stepping in and helping tighten/clean up the narrative.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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