“The Men of Tomorrow, Chapter One: Ulysses”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover artists: Romita & Janson (regular & variant)/Ant Lucia (variant)
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US
DC’s big marketing push proclaiming not only the arrival of John Romita Jr. at the publisher for the first time but his association with the most iconic super-hero character of all time was a merited one and a smart move. I was certainly interested in what he’d do with Superman. Furthermore, pairing Romita with DC exec and top writer Geoff Johns was another wise choice. It’s heartening that what’s making this comic book an important one for DC is the talent, not necessarily the story. That being said, the story here struck me as somewhat generic, but a bit clever, but it’s not enough to keep me coming back. However, the art is exciting and fun, and Johns has instilled some strong characterization bits that have definitely piqued my interest.
Things are buzzing in the newsroom of The Daily Planet after Superman’s successful defeat of the rampaging giant ape known as Titano, and editor-in-chief Perry White is busy managing the newspaper’s affairs, which includes dealing with the ever-present and persistent photographer Jimmy Olsen and trying to get one of the organization’s former star reporters to come into the fold. Unbeknownst to any of these dedicated journalists, decades before, two desperate souls thought the world was about to end, and they took fantastic steps to ensure their legacy would live on. And that legacy is about to make itself known in a big way in Metropolis.
Johns opens the issue with a set of characters that parallel the Superman origin story — hardly the most original approach, but he handles it well. Ultimately, this new character, as introduced at the end of this issue, doesn’t seem all that interesting. But the writer’s decisions to explore Jimmy Olsen’s personal problems and Clark’s self-imposed isolation from those around him worked really well for me. Furthermore, the focus on the business and work of The Daily Planet is something that’s always going to click for me, given my career in print journalism.
Not surprisingly, Romita’s linework shines most in the action sequences. He conveys the chaos and desperation of the destructive scene that opens the issue, and his design for Titano looks fierce and fantastic. Of course, the colourist’s inclusion of a green glow of Kryptonite under Titano’s furry hide adds a lot to the giant ape menace’s look. The other villain in the issue — the other-dimensional Klerik — wasn’t quite so pleasing, however. His look seems ill-defined and rushed, and the design for the other hero who shows up at the end of the issue seemed rather bland as well (though it is in keeping with his origins in a lab environment). Romita’s depiction of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White caught my eye as well. His Jimmy looks much younger than the ones we’ve seen before, and Perry looks leaner and a bit more vital.
There’s just enough here to get me to check out the second issue of the Johns/Romita run on this title. Other than Grant Morrison, DC’s creators haven’t seemed to have had a solid handle on or vision for the Man of Steel since the New 52 relaunch. It remains to be seen if this will be a turning point. 7/10
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