T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Superman #7, which reached readers on Wednesday, followed up on the high-impact opening arc co-authored by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason with a more subdued story. Accompanied by artwork from Jorge Jimenez, Our Town brought the tale back to the home front. ComiConverse’s Action Ace analyst, T. Kyle King, is here with his review.
The pre-Flashpoint Man of Steel is settling into his role in the New 52 DC Universe, but how is he handling his responsibilities as a husband and father? Can Clark, Lois, and Jonathan Smith devote a day just to being members of the bucolic Hamilton County community without the intervention of Superman?
Superman #7 Synopsis:
The Man of Tomorrow is working the night shift, performing superheroics from the space station to the South Pacific until dawn. Clark returns home as the sun comes up over Hamilton County, and he promises to spend the day with Lois and Jon without taking time out to be Superman.
At the county fair, the Smiths spend time with such townspeople as neighbor Cobb Branden, his granddaughter Kathy, and elementary school science teacher Tony Martinez. In the midst of livestock competitions, cotton candy, and roller coaster rides, Clark becomes aware of an armed robbery in progress. In the end, he manages to find a way to do his duty as a hero, meet his obligations to his family, and fulfill his promise to his wife… sort of.
Superman #7 Analysis:
Tomasi and Gleason told a beautifully simple story in Superman #7, so my initial impulse is to concentrate on the writing at the outset. However, I just can’t restrain myself from starting off by praising Jimenez’s superb artwork. His layouts are intricate but not busy; he crafts his images with clean lines defined by strong inks yet makes effective use of such subtle touches as shadows, reflections, and perspective; he draws expressive facial features that convey heartwarming affection and sinister menace; and, with the able assistance of colorist Alejandro Sanchez, he gives Our Town a look and feel that are classic and timeless rather than shopworn and dated.
Without making a show of doing so, Jimenez even manages to correct the lone defect in the otherwise excellent previous issue: Lois may have matured since her younger days, when her single self-sufficiency permitted her the luxury of being courageous sometimes to the point of being reckless, but she is shown in Superman #7 to remain vibrant in all aspects of her life. Jimenez deserves tremendous credit for the nuanced way he managed to portray Lois as neither objectified nor frumpy.
Tomasi and Gleason crammed this story with callbacks. True to the mission statement of Rebirth, Our Town not only incorporates iconic images like the sight of Clark Kent opening his shirt to reveal his costume underneath, but also ties them to such familiar conceits as having him fake a queasy stomach before slipping away to save the day. Batman gets two explicit mentions, both of which are marvelous. The best of the storytellers’ numerous nods to Lois’s and Clark’s long history comes when they meet Candice from the local print medium, The Hamilton Horn. When Lois inquires about job openings, Candice asks, “Have either of you ever worked at a paper before?” In unison, the former Daily Planet colleagues answer: “Um, not really.”
Superman #7 does not merely limit its allusions to the characters’ storied history, though. Tomasi and Gleason offer plenty of tips of the cap to the more recent past… using, among other things, actual caps: Clark and Jon sport matching Hamilton baseball lids, in addition to both wearing eyeglasses. When Clark speaks with Cobb, the former apologizes for being brusque before and the latter expresses his pleasure that Jonathan is doing better.
Sprinkled throughout the story, these nuggets serve individually as shining reminders and combine collectively to tie together the best of the past and present. Our Town is a basic story that gets to the heart of these characters and their considerable (and highly underrated) complexities. Even the full moon hanging unremarked in the sky on the final page of Superman #7 is loaded with layers of meaning, hearkening back both to the family’s recent adventure there and to the message Superman once engraved onto that orb.
The undercurrent in all of this, of course, is the vow Clark makes to Lois in the beginning, when he promises “there’ll be no Superman-ing whatsoever” and gives her custody of his cape for the day to verify his sincerity. In keeping with longstanding convention, Clark can claim later that he was technically truthful when he found a solution that enabled him to do what the Big Blue Boy Scout does, in violation of the spirit, but not strictly the letter, of his previous pledge. This time, though, Lois is not the victim of cringe-inducing Silver Age trickery, as Clark’s clandestine superheroics are treated as the sort of open secrets shared by loving couples of longstanding familiarity: Lois is in on the joke, not the butt of it.
Superman #7 isn’t just about Clark making a promise to Lois, though; it’s about DC Comics making a promise to its audience. Superman is back in Metropolis, Clark is back in Smallville (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), both are back with Lois, and, if all is not quite right with the world, at least the Action Ace is on duty watching over this troubled globe. For the Man of Steel and those closest to him, Rebirth has been exactly that, and not a moment too soon. Our Town was a respectful homage to the past, but, more than that, it was a beacon of hope for the future.
Did you find Superman #7 too down to earth, or did you think it soared?
We invite you to ComiConverse with us in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
The story, tone, and look of this book got to the heart of Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Superman in a simple yet elegant tale.