Superman ’78: The Metal Curtain #1 is the next installment in the world of Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s cinematic Superman by Robert Venditti, Gavin Guidry, Jordie Bellaire, and Dave Lanphear. Tapping into the Cold War story vices of the time, the backdrop of Russian and American hostilities is used to reimagine the origins of Metallo. Thus “The Metal Curtain” is a clever play on Metallo’s name and Soviet Union’s political nickname, The Iron Curtain.
Gavin Guidry and Jordie Bellaire provide the standard cover. Washed in the green glow of kryptonite, the main cast of characters adorn this movie poster inspired cover as a fully colored Superman smiles back at us. It’s easy to see Margot Kidder’s likeness as Lois Lane and what appears to be Lee Marvin cast as her father, which adds to the experience of reading this series as the movie sequel it could’ve been.
The variant by Wilfredo Torres and Jordie Bellaire not only captures Christopher Reeve’s likeness but also gives us a better sneak peek at what Metallo looks like for this series. Splitting the cover, Superman flies over Metropolis while Metallo basks in the red hues of the Soviet Union flag it what closely resembles Luthor’s classic battle suit.
Adrian Gutierrez and Luis Guerrero’s variant gives us a taste of the quippy comedic scenes for which the Richard Donner films excelled. After being hit with a crowbar, Superman smirks and simply asks, “Bad Vibrations?”. Gutierrez & Guerrero does such an excellent job you can almost hear the pitchfork stylized sound coming off the crowbar.
Be on the lookout for Doug Braithwaite’s variant featuring the Fortress of Solitude and the McFarlane Toys Action Figure variant that recreates the cover to Action Comics #1.
Artist Gavin Guidry and colorist Jordie Bellaire captures the mannerisms and body language of the actors that portrayed these characters in a way that makes them instantly recognizable but unique to the comic book medium. The world feels more like this is what the movies tried to emulate instead of the other way around, giving Earth 789 a stronger foothold in DC’s Multiverse. The angles of perspective and movement through the sequential panels adds to the illusion of watching a movie instead of reading a comic. There’s also a nice easter egg on page two that may hint to what’s in store for volume 3 of Superman ’78.
Robert Venditti, lettered by Dave Lanphear of A Larger World, masterfully captures the dialogue pacing of the Superman films in Superman ’78: The Metal Curtain #1. It’s all too easy to hear the actor’s voices with every interaction and the comedic timing is absolutely perfect. The opening credits follow a chunk of Krypton as it becomes kryptonite and lands on a farm in Russia. From there, we follow Lois as she snoops out a dangerous story and ends up getting caught allowing Superman to make his debut. Later, we find out more about why Lois feels this story is important, but Perry tries his best to shoot it down before she gets herself hurt or killed. We then segue across the globe to the USSR and the audience discovery of what happened to that kryptonite chunk from the opening. It’s being used as the energy source for an armored power suit called Metallo!
Bringing in the Cold War sensibilities not only makes sense for the era these movies where made, but it also feels relevant to the global political situation we find ourselves in today. This is definitely a first issue that grabs your attention from page one and wastes no time in showing us where this story is headed. Superman ’78: The Metal Curtain is sure to be a fun nostalgic return to the Richard Donner films of Superman while giving us another new, uncharted aspect of that world as a whole.