Written by Geoff Johns
Art by John Romita Jr.
Inks by Klaus Janson
Colors by Laura Martin
Published by DC Comics
THE MEN OF TOMORROW, CHAPTER ONE: ULYSSES
For the record, I’m not currently reading the Superman comics and haven’t for the past few years, so I went into this book pretty much as a newbie, not all caught up with the current status quo, beyond what I’ve read here and there online on message boards. The primary draw for me here is that this is the debut of John Romita Jr., in his first regular work for DC. He’s one of my all-time favorite artists, so getting the chance to see him work on Superman is just too tempting for me to pass up.
This story begins 25 years ago, some top secret research lab underneath Omaha had a major accident and was forced to lock down and then self destruct. A couple of married scientists who were trapped in the lab decided to try and save their infant son by using an experimental wormhole to send him into a parallel dimension just before the lab explodes around them. Then we cut to the present day where after a brief battle with Titano the giant ape, Clark Kent is at the Daily Planet where Perry White convinces him to come back to work there. Later some type of flying ship starts blasting the streets of Metropolis, and Superman rushes to confront it, being met by some kind of monster in high-tech armor, who proceeds to beat the crap out of him, until another super-powered man with long blond hair arrives on the scene and saves the day. He’s clearly the infant from the prologue, now all grown up, and introduces himself to Superman as Ulysses.
That’s it’s for this first issue. There’s some other juicy tidbits I discovered, it would seem that Jimmy Olsen has a couple of rich parents who are wanted for some kind of (apparently financial) crime, and are currently on the run with Jimmy being unaware of their location or how they’re doing. In the meantime he’s inherited their multi-million dollar fortune, but he refuses to spend it because he’s sure they’ll eventually come out of hiding and demand their money back, which is why he’s trying to earn a living as a photographer for the Daily Planet. That seems like a rather random background change for this character, so I can only imagine there must be some major plans for exploring that storyline at some point. We only get one brief shot of Lois in this issue, and a mention of Steve Lombard (who doesn’t appear on-panel). Superman’s relationship with Wonder Woman and friendship with Batman are also touched upon briefly here.
Storywise, this issue is pretty average. It’s a set-up issue, so I don’t expect everything to be revealed at once. The major development here is the re-setting of the classic status quo of Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet (I hear he’s been some kind of freelance blogger before now). Johns’ dialog is good, particularly in the scene where Perry is trying to convince a reluctant Clark to come back to work for him, with some interesting insights into Clark’s characters. And the big story is the introduction of this Ulysses character. The parallels between his origin and Superman’s are obvious, so now the question is how will this pay off? Can’t make a judgment now, we’ll have to wait and see. But, as I said, the big appeal for me was the art, and that already pays off in spades. I love Romita’s work here, backed by the crisp inks of Klaus Janson and nice colors of Laura Martin, the pages look beautiful, whether it’s the dynamic action scenes of Superman in battle, or quiet scenes of Clark cooking and eating dinner alone in his apartment at night.
Okay, I’m still not crazy about Superman’s nu52 “armored” costume, not even with John Romita Jr. drawing it, but I can live with it, I guess.