Review – Superman Special #1: Darwyn Cooke Tribute

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Superman Special #1 cover
Image via DC Comics

Superman Special #1 – Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mark Russell, Ian Flynn, Writers; Scott Godlewski, Bryan Hitch, Kaare Andrews, Artists; Gabe Eltaeb, Alex Sinclair, Colorists

Ray – 8/10

Corrina: John Cloud is a Loser

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: I wasn’t as big a fan of Tomasi and Gleason’s Superman run as Jurgens’ Action run, for various reasons, but I think his farewell to the title is actually better than the Action Comics Special. The main story, with art by Scott Godlewski, picks up on the run’s best arc – a tribute to Darwyn Cooke and the classic DC characters The Losers. At the end of that arc, Superman and Superboy had to leave the heroic Captain Storm behind in a lost, dinosaur-filled island  so they could get back home, and they vowed to return to get the time-displaced WW2 veteran home. Jon Kent has been unable to forget their promise, and he and Superman decide it’s time to go back. Although Lois Lane is disappointingly missing in action for the most part (she stays behind, just like she did in the initial arc), I enjoyed the father-son dynamic and the story has a few fun twists. Its best moments, by far, are the aftermath as Captain Storm returns to the real world and tries to adjust as a man out of time. Would love to see more of him.

The two backups are fairly high-quality as well, starting with a Mark Russell/Bryan Hitch tale that starts as Superman returns to Earth, exhausted and drained from his time away from the yellow sun. No rest for him as he fights a rampaging Atlantean monster and saves people from a collapsing building, but it soon builds into a compelling tale about making impossible choices, and how to move forward after losing something important. Much better than Russell’s political Luthor tale in the other issue. I also enjoyed Ian Flynn and Kaare Andrews’ story, which picks up on the subplot about Atomic Skull turning his back on his criminal past and working for Metropolis’ MCU. Here, the Skull (who is also appearing in Hal Jordan’s title) and Superman are paired on a mission to track down one of Skull’s old criminal cohorts and have to work past their mutual distrust to get the job done. No big surprises in this issue, but all three tales are fun, classic Superman with a good 90’s vibe right before Bendis upends everything.

Superman Special #1 page 3
The above panel will look familiar to readers of DC: The New Frontier. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: Given I read this story on the anniversary of Darwyn Cooke’s untimely death (he was only 53), I had a tear in my eye for most of Storm’s story. I like to think the creative team brought Storm back to the future because they could not bring Cooke back from the dead, save through their imagination. (Or perhaps it’s just nice to think so.) The two backup stories are very good and could have easily been slotted into Action Comics #1,000.

But I also cannot close out my commentary on this Superman run without addressing the sidelining of Lois Lane.  People who have gotten more attention and storylines than Lois in this run include Storm, Lex Luthor, and Jon Kent. Heck, even the minor supporting characters of Maggie Sawyer and the Atomic Skull get some love in this issue. Not Lois, though.

It is absolutely crystal clear that DC is far more interested in the stories of a pre-teen boy (who headlined his own comic) and Lex Luthor (who became a Superman of sorts), than they are in Lois Lane, save as a sounding board/wife/mother. To say that’s disappointing would be incorrect. It’s maddening. Because Lois is unique, a character who could have become a well-rounded mother/wife/reporter that showed that women can have as multi-faceted a life as the men or, hell, even her young son. But, nope, this and the Action Comics Special prove DC editorial is not interested in Lois Lane in the least and I fully expect her to be missing for a long time when Bendis takes over Superman next month.

I guess writing a grown woman with a career and family is much harder than writing about a dude with a glowing skull. The fact that there was only ONE woman credited as a creator (the great Louise Simonson) as part of the big Action Comics #1,000, the Action Comics Special #1 and, now, Superman Special #1, says it all.

Margot Kidder passed away this week. Her Lois Lane in the 1970s had more agency, drive, and intelligence than the one written in the two comics starring Superman over the past two years. That is a damned shame.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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