George Perez has been outspoken about why he's leaving Superman. He feels that Superman, the New 52 Universe model, isn't his Superman, and after reading this latest issue, I can kind of see it. That doesn't mean Perez isn't giving his all to the book. Rather, he's creating a story about Superman, as opposed to one where The Big Red S actively participates and interacts with the classic players.
Perez surrounds the Man of Steel with a burgeoning cast. Not just Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, we also get a Commissioner and a police Lieutenant — not Henderson.
Did Perez add to the population of Superman's cast simply because he didn't want to deal with the Man of Steel himself? It's a good question that only Perez can answer. However, his method actually sort of works. Superman becomes bigger as we see him in the eyes of others and as his history starts to seep through.
The idea of the police actually holding Superman for questioning is a new one. That would have been unthinkable in the old universe, even Pre-Crisis. Superman was only too happy to co-operate with authorities. This Superman is a different animal. He's less naïve about the corruption associated with power.
The little moment with Ron Troupe furthermore characterizes this world as ours, a world that's consistently recorded. Often in secret. Such a recording creates some old school suspicions in Lois Lane.
Is it a mere coincidence that Superman flies over the Smallville cemetery that Clark Kent was visiting? There are ways out of this mess. Obviously. Superman could have dropped in on Clark to see how he was doing. Of course, that may not satisfy Lois' nose for news as well as her concern that Clark's a little off.
Something's Wrong With Clark
Readers can be forgiven for not noticing Perez's sly anomaly. After all, Morgan Edge just bought The Daily Planet a couple of issues ago, and that wouldn't have pleased Clark at all. Furthermore, this is a new universe, and we aren't really too sure about what now defines Clark's characterization. This however brings up another question. Did Perez create this unusual behavior simply because he didn't want to deal with the new parameters of character for Superman and his alter-ego? Whatever Perez's reasoning happens to be, the result works quite well when evolving a story that at first appeared to be a typical monster of the week tale.
As it turns out there's way more than meets the eye to this tale than expected. The cliffhanger is a doozy. The answer to Superman's question will floor you, and taken in hindsight, the answer will add greater weight to all that happened in Superman.
Whether or not George Perez leaves the book, it's my sincerest hope that the art team stays in place. Jesus Merino and Bruce Buccellato imbue a freshness to the title. Merino's Superman recoups the traditional look of the Man of Steel but also differs with an edgy attitude in the body language. He might fly up and rescue a cat, but he's not going to really tolerate a meter maid giving the cat lady a ticket for parking her car illegally under the tree. Merino's Lois Lane is equal parts tradition and newly minted savvy. She displays all the moods and spark you expect to see from a multimedia boss as well as the empathy from a close friend concerned over Clark's odd behavior.
While I look forward to what Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens have in store for the Man of Steel, I will miss George Perez's non-take on the character and his confidantes. He created a rich world for Superman to soar in.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.