Superman #1 Review: A Soaring Triumph

With the shaking up of the status quo in Action Comics, it’s officially the dawn of a new era for Clark Kent in Superman #1, and that new era is off to a sensational start. Superman’s always been iconic but it can be easy to lose sight of why, and Superman #1 beautifully captures the spirit and genuine heart of DC’s most powerful hero while also evolving his extended cast and his relationship with his biggest villain. The team of writer Joshua Williamson, artist Jamal Campbell, and letterer Ariana Maher have forged a stunning interpretation of the longtime hero (seriously, this comic is beautiful), keeping what made him so inspiring all these years intact but never letting him feel like a relic. He’s the hero we always needed, but more importantly, he’s the hero we still need, and that central idea is at the heart of what makes Superman #1 soar.

In a visual sense, Superman #1 couldn’t embody the character better. Campbell’s compositions are electric, and Maher’s lettering literally crackles on the page at time. Praise is also due for Maher’s keen ability to visualize Superman’s versatile power set, as a foot stomp and flight launch have rarely been this on the money. The comic’s colors are as striking and bright as you would expect, but each element is given substantial weight and texture which balance them. This is true of not just Superman though, as Livewire, Parasite, Lois, and Lex all benefit from the same dazzling one-two stylistic punch, and those last few pages showcase just what this duo can do when things take a darker turn.

(Photo: DC)

You can absolutely see the influences from Superman: The Animated Series throughout, but while Campbell definitely calls back to that series with certain elements and Clark’s build, this version still feels unique to him. That’s in large part due to the captivating expression work in both Superman and his supporting cast. Superman’s expressions convey so much before the dialogue even kicks in, and the same can be said of Lois, Lex, and Mercy. (shoutout to Mercy fans as the character finally receives another proper spotlight)

Part of the reason this feels like such a Superman book through and through is Williamson’s skillful use of Superman’s extended circle of characters. Perry might not be in the mix just yet, but his presence is still felt, and Lois’ promotion is a perfect way to recapture certain hallmarks of the character while also moving her forward. Likewise, having Superman stalwarts like Lex, Livewire, and Parasite all involved brings a certain nostalgia, but Lex’s new dynamic with Superman injects a welcome freshness to their rivalry, while the tease of Parasite’s evolution promises the same sort of energy.

Speaking of Lex, he’s also the catalyst of one of the issue’s biggest ideas, that of Supercorp. Having Lex switch his approach is rather genius, but having him find a way to guilt Superman into it all is, well, pitch-perfect machiavellian Lex Luthor behavior. Supercorp opens up many intriguing possibilities for the future of the characters and massive superhero throwdowns. While he doesn’t need them as much, Batman has proved that having some cool gadgets and toys can only make things better, and what appears to be an updated Supermobile is a slick touch.

It’s difficult finding much to complain about, and I’m always of the mind that if you have to try that hard to find nits to pick, then they really weren’t detrimental in the first place. Superman #1 is a soaring triumph that brings everything I’ve always loved about the character into the now, adding complexities and fresh ideas without sacrificing the elements that make Superman an icon. It doesn’t hurt that Campbell’s Superman is out of this world and succinctly captures all of those same virtues, creating a best-of-both-worlds scenario that no DC Comics fan should miss. It turns out, it’s a great time to be a Superman fan.

Published by DC Comics

On February 21, 2023

Written by Joshua Williamson

Art by Jamal Campbell

Colors by Jamal Campbell


Letters by Ariana Maher

Cover by Jamal Campbell