Superman ‘78 #1 – Robert Venditti, Writer; Wilfredo Torres, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: It’s not quite possible for this title to recapture the spirit of the original movie the way Batman ‘89 did with the return of screenwriter Sam Hamm. The lead actors and screenwriter are long gone, and director Richard Donner just passed on. That adds some extra poignancy to this retro adventure, but the franchise is in good hands with writer Robert Venditti, who has written a series of old-school Superman adventures in the last two years. Artist Wilfredo Torres also brings an old-school sensibility to the story—and brilliantly captures the images of the fondly remembered cast. But this book has one thing the original didn’t—no movie budget, which means it can delve into the sci-fi roots of the character.
From the start, a recreation of the explosion of Krypton but with an unexpected end, it’s clear that the creative team is drawing from the Silver Age here. The choice of Brainiac as the first villain is uncharted territory, as the alien collector is one of the few major Superman villains to never make his big-screen debut. This version seems more human than some, an almost mournful collector trying to prevent further tragedies by bottling civilizations—and making sure that what he deems to be invasive species never see the light of day again. But while the villain himself is almost Shakespearean, his robotic servants provide a dose of old-school gonzo sci-fi action that kicks the action up a notch.
I was overall pleased with the characterization of the lead characters, but this version of Superman might feel a bit out of step to some readers. It’s been a while since we saw this deliberately meek version of Clark Kent, who seems afraid to express his ambition and gets dressed down by his boss for being a weak reporter. Lois seems strong and compelling as always, although Jimmy Olsen and Perry White don’t make too much of an impression. It’s a while before Superman actually makes his debut, but when he does, the book makes it count. This is unmistakably the Christopher Reeve Superman, bringing with him the presence he had on the big screen, and that energy alone is worth the price of admission.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.