REVIEW: ‘Superman ’78,’ Issue #1

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Superman '78 #1

Superman ’78 #1 is written by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Wilfredo Torres, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Dave Lanphear. It is published by DC Comics. Taking place sometime after the events of Richard Donner’s first Superman film, the issue follows the malevolent intelligence Brainiac as he travels from galaxy to galaxy, absorbing planets’ information and then destroying them. Brainiac’s travels soon take him to the planet Earth, where he encounters Superman-the Last Son Krypton!

In the same vein as Batman ’89, this comic is written and illustrated as if it took place in between Superman and Superman II. A large part of this is due to the artwork of Torres and Bellaire, who perfectly capture the likenesses of Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent and Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane. There’s even a page that replicates the famous “Superman shirt-rip/flying right at the screen,” which feels like an actual screenshot from the movie. Torres also has the chance to put a new spin on Brainiac, combining the cybernetic villain’s Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis looks for an unholy fusion of metal and flesh. Superman even battles a drone that resembles Brainiac’s look in Crisis on Infinite Earths, which wouldn’t have felt out of place in a 70’s-era blockbuster.

What really makes the artwork pop is Bellaire’s color art, which gives the book the warm tones you’d expect from a Superman story. The majority of the issue takes place during the day, with golden sunlight spilling out over the city of Metropolis.  Clark Kent’s outfits are prim, from his suit and tie to his Superman costume. This offers a nice contrast to the gunmetal grey of Brainiac’s drone and the purple and green hues of the villain himself-even his speech bubbles are tinted with green and have a cold, mechanical design. And every so often, the action will cut to the cold dark void of space where Brainiac’s massive spaceship lies, hinting at the danger that awaits Superman in future issues.

Venditti said that Donner’s take on Superman is his personal favorite interpretation of the Man of Steel, and it shows in his script. He perfectly captures Clark’s good-natured yet awkward persona, as he asks Lois if she thinks he’s a good journalist. In contrast, he is more confident when in Superman mode, swooping into battle against Brainiac’s drone and managing to defeat it. Venditti even writes an opening sequence that recalls the fall of Krypton, tying it into Brainiac’s conquest of the universe. The fun of these comic book continuations is that they can tackle bigger-scale stories without worrying about things like a budget or a shooting schedule, meaning the writers can flex their imaginations. I also appreciate that Venditti is going with Brainiac for this series; it’s nice to see a villain that isn’t Lex Luthor or General Zod go up against Superman.

Superman ’78 #1 is not only a solid continuation of the first Superman film, but it also serves as a loving tribute to the cast and crew who crafted said film. If you love Donner’s Superman films or the Man of Steel’s pre-Crisis adventures, you’ll want to pick this book up. Once again, fans will believe that a man can fly.

Superman ’78 #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Superman '78 #1
5

TL;DR

Superman ’78 #1 is not only a solid continuation of the first Superman film, but it also serves as a loving tribute to the cast and crew who crafted said film. If you love Donner’s Superman films or the Man of Steel’s pre-Crisis adventures, you’ll want to pick this book up. Once again, fans will believe that a man can fly.