Aalok Deciphers DC: Review of Man of Steel Vol 1

8 Jan

Through this column we plan to review and analyze every major event and comic series within DCU since COIE, in the hopes that this becomes a  road map of sorts to the continuity laden streets of DCU. 
If you are an old fan, come enjoy reminiscing with us through the good and the bad DC had to offer.
If you are an old fan getting back into comics , let us help you get upto date sequentially 
If you are a new fan you will get our help in unraveling the mysteries of current DCU
If you are not reading DC comics, let us tell you why you should be.

We started with COIE ( here and here )


Writer: John Byrne
Artists: John Byrne & Dick Giordano
Collects: miniseries MAN OF STEEL 1-6

In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marv Wolfman & George Perez said goodbye to the Superman of Earth – 2. Subsequently, Alan Moore and Curt Swan in their quintessential WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW? said goodbye to the Superman of Earth – 1, serialized in 2 issues of the monthly Superman titles, SUPERMAN & ACTION COMICS.

But the task of handling and defining the NEW Superman was given to John Byrne. He wrote and pencilled a 6 issue mini series called MAN OF STEEL. The inks were provided by Dick Giordano, longtime Batman penciller. In those 6 issues he completely revamped Superman for a larger audience.

In these 6 issues, he introduced the new Clark Kent, Ma & Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Batman, Lex Luthor and Bizarro. He made the characters slightly different from the classic iterations.

Let me explain in detail. The story starts with a 8 page look at the sterile world New Krypton has become. Jor El claims that the planet is in danger of getting destroyed only due to the tampering of Nature by the Kryptonians. He tells Lara that there is no other option but to send their child to Earth. Lara expresses her discontent as in how primitive Earth is but agrees when Jor El tells her that he will have amazing powers under the yellow sun. The craft is sent as Krypton explodes.
Cut to a scene of a Smallville football game which Clark wins almost single handedly and Pa Kent expresses his disappointment at that. It is then that Pa Kent reveals that he came to Earth in a spaceship and shows him the craft. What follows is a summary of how his powers manifest, one by one and how he gradually learns to control them. he finally makes the decision of leaving Smallville and go out into the world to see how his powers can help other people. 
He returns once when he is “outed” in Metropolis while saving a Space plane from crashing. Lois happens to be aboard that plane and thus we see the briefest first encounter between Lois & Clark. Clark doesn’t have a costume, yet. When everybody swarms him with offers, he becomes so disillusioned that he returns to Smallville to his parents for advice. Pa & Ma Kent then design a costume for him, along with a secret identity. 

And this was just the 1st issue. This is the origin of Superman, complete in one issue! The rest describe his first encounters with people who will subsequently form an integral part of his life. 

Next comes Lois Lane. we see an account of how Lois chases Superman around the city just to miss him every time until she performs a stunt – drives her car off the pier in hope that Superman will come to help her  (she had an air bag ready in her car in case she doesn’t). The issue ends with her being scooped by Clark Kent and this makes her furious. 

The Third issue is the supposed first interaction between the world’s finest. Superman doesn’t like Batman’s methods which brings him into conflict with him. When Superman tries to bring Batman in, he states that he has built a field around him which would send out a signal to a detonator planted on an innocent person. If Superman would breach the field. that person would die. Thus begins a reluctant partnership, to capture a female called Magpie who is responsible for a rash of robberies and murders in museums, exhibitions and jewelery stores. How they deduce Magpie’s identity and Superman learns that Gotham is not Metropolis and requires a different approach is worth reading.

The next issue sees Lois coming to Clark Kent’s place to pick him up for a yacht party hosted by the billionaire Lex Luthor. suddenly, the party is interrupted by Brazilian mercenaries until Clark turns into Superman to save the day, which is when Luthor tears him a check and offers to put him on retainer. It is then we learn that the mercenaries were hired by Luthor himself in the hopes of attracting and testing Superman. The mayor orders superman to arrest Lex Luthor. Thus is born the eternal conflict between Luthor & Superman.

BIZARRO is an imperfect clone of superman, commissioned by Lex Luthor and created by Sydney Happersen in a laboratory. It is junked when the odd creature is far too imperfect for Luthor’s requirements. Bizarro knows Superman’s secret identity and shows up dressed as Clark Kent at the Daily Planet. Lois’ sister, Lucy Lane is shown as being blind from an accident. Only when her eyes come into contact with some “strange dust” from Bizarro is she able to have “flashes” of sight. the issue ends with her sight being totally restored when Bizarro explodes at the end of his battle with Superman.

In the final issue, Superman returns to Smallville and courtesy a holo simulation learns about his true Kryptonian heritage and sees his biological parents for the first time and has a reunion of sorts with Lana Lang, his childhood sweetheart who always had pinned her hopes on being Mrs Clark Kent. In the end Superman realizes that while he was born in Krypton , it is Earth that makes him human.


Some differences from Pre-Crisis stories:

-This one skips all the action of Jor El learning about Krypton’s imminent destruction and visiting the Science Council and his pleas to make plans for the relocation of all Kryptonians. It begins just before the death tremors of Krypton.
-Clark Kent was never Superboy. He started using the costume as an adult.
-Ma & Pa Kent are alive when Superman is an adult.
-Byrne made it pretty clear where he was going with Lois and Lana and that he intends for Lois to be his sweet heart.
-Lex Luthor is a businessman, not a mad scientist.
-No Bizarro World.
-We see the Kent scrapbook for the first time when Ma Kent collects the newspaper articles of Clark’s feats when he wasn’t Superman but still helping the world in the best way possible.

-Byrne’s clean art is gorgeous, the Giordano inks also help. The storytelling represents a fresh take, also we see where decompressed storylines began, not so much here as in Batman Year one.
-Ma & Pa Kent are alive. I think he makes a better Superman with his parents to help out.
-Lex Luthor becomes more realistic here. He has the potential to become much more than a common crook.
-The portrayal of Batman here and in Batman: Year One is one that made him return to his grim n gritty roots. That has given us many great stories subsequently.

-No Bizarro World
-Lucy Lane regaining her sight from exposure to some “strange dust” is a stretch. No explanations given.

Rating: 8 stars out of 10
Contains full covers, 14.99 $

Next up: A Roadmap of sorts for DCU !! 

One Response to “Aalok Deciphers DC: Review of Man of Steel Vol 1”

  1. Anonymous April 29, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Once a gentleman, and always a gentleman.

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