Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Book Review: Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth by G. L. Yang et al.

Superman Volume 1: Before Truth written by Gene Luen Yang and art by John Romita, Jr.

Superman has developed a new power: when using his heat vision, he can emit a "solar flare" burst of energy that does tremendous destruction. Two problems come with the power. First, it causes more or less indiscriminate destruction. Second, it leaves Superman drained, i.e. he has no superpowers for about 24 hours. So he can be injured and, in a comic scene, become drunk. The Justice League is helping him gain control of this new power.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent gets an anonymous text with a good tip for a story. The tip leads him to an arms dealer's lair. The arms dealer is trying to close a sale but the security system warns him about intruders. So Superman has to save the day. So things turn out okay. The anonymous texter wants Clark to do more questionable things for him. As extra motivation, the texter reveals evidence that Clark is Superman and threatens to leak the story unless Clark follows instructions to the letter. Clark goes along until he can think of a move to get his loved ones (who will be obvious targets for every villain Superman has ever faced) out of danger. Unfortunately, more forces are at work than just Superman and the texter.

This story is the debut of Gene Luen Yang in DC Comics. The two-fork approach to solving Superman's invincibility is interesting. Not only does Superman temporarily lose his powers from time to time, but also the main villain has a way of controlling him without brute force. In fact, the villain doesn't even have to go face-to-face with Superman. He is a villain for the Information Age. I'm typically not interested in reading Superman but Yang's involvement had me interested and this is a fun story. In addition to the creative plot, Yang gives the characters some snappy dialogue. I don't love this book like his work on Avatar, but it is of similar high quality.

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