Comic Review

REVIEW: Superman ’78 #1

Superman #78 #1 is finally here and the legacy continues. It has been 34 Years since the final Christopher Reeve film aired in theatres in 1987, so this series has definitely been a long time coming!

Issue #1 comes with four covers, the main cover by Wilfredo Torres serves as a pseudo movie poster for a film that doesn’t exist! It reintroduces us to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane, and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, while also showcasing the new villain of the series, Brainiac, who seems to be inspired by David Bowie! This cover definitely has a 70’s/early 80’s feel, which perfect for the subject matter, I love it.

Superman '78 #1 Review | The Aspiring Kryptonian
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The first variant cover is by Evan “Doc” Shaner and it is my favourite, giving us a much more modern comic book aesthetic, while still maintaining that classic feel. The composition of the piece is beautiful, showing Superman in the iconic fortress from the Reeves films, holding up a Kryptonian Crystal in which hides the reflection of Brainiac. The art here is detailed, yet simple and uncluttered, giving us a very dynamic frame-worthy image.

Superman '78 #1 Review | The Aspiring Kryptonian
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The final variant cover, which is also by Wilfredo Torres, looks to be a character sketch sheet perhaps repurposed into a cover image. It features Superman and Brainiac in various poses on a simple gradient background. This is a cover that die-hard collectors will want to have, as it perfectly showcases the processes behind the character designs and positioning.

Superman '78 #1 Review | The Aspiring Kryptonian
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

And for the super collectors, Big Time Collectibles have an amazing variant cover by Mico Suayan, in which he recreates Jim Lee’s iconic image of Superman standing upon a gargoyle. In this cover, the rendering is much more photorealistic and painterly, replacing Jim Lee’s Superman with Christopher Reeve. It’s incredible, its definitely another worthy piece for your art gallery.

Superman '78 #1 Review | The Aspiring Kryptonian
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

Inside Superman ’78 #1, we begin not with the story, but with a nice tribute to Richard Donner, the director of Superman: The Movie, and the man largely responsible for the look and tone of the classic Superman films and superheroes films as a whole.

Let me just say that the writer, Robert Venditti, has perfectly captured the tone and dialogue of these characters. Just like in the movies, Lois can barely even register that Clark Kent exists. She is constantly thinking about or doing something else, giving Clark only the very fringes of her attention as he desperately tries to make conversation with her. Perry and Jimmy are also represented nicely, and true to form, Superman continues to quietly and covertly foil crimes as Clark without changing into costume.  We also get some nice slapstick antics from the background cast of Metropolis, with Metropolis itself being as cluttered and grungy as it appears in the films.

The artist, Wilfredo Torres, did something I was desperately hoping for in this series, and that is not only giving us character likenesses, but replicating the visual style of the special effects seen in the Superman films. Two or three times, we see Superman rendered flying just as he would be as if Christopher Reeve was filmed in front of a rear projection screen. This truly gives us the feel of watching a new film installment in the franchise, rather than just reading a comic set in that universe. 

However, I do wish he would have taken this a step further, as the main villain of this issue, a robot Brainiac drone, seems very out of place in the world of 1970’s visual effects. Its’ character design is basically taken straight out of modern comic books and seems like it would be a hard look to pull off in the films. Brainiac himself however, looks very much at home in this universe, and I can’t wait to see him interact with the characters and settings we know and love.

Superman ’78 #1 delivers not just a new story set in the universe of the Reeves films, but a recreation of the 70’s cinematography and visual effects from the movies we know and love! This is surely a satisfying read for the die-hard fan of the classic Superman films!

Haven’t picked up Superman ’78 #1 yet? You can get the standard cover by Wilfredo Torres here (UK), or here (US). Or if you prefer the variant by Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner, you can get that here.

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