Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Superman for Tomorrow by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee

This month of “Superman” is dedicated to the memory of my father.

This graphic novel reprints the mini-series from 2004. Author Brian Azzarello’s story was brought to life by artists Jim Lee and Scott Williams and several colorists. The result is a breathtaking display of action and imagination in the best tradition of sequential art. Visually, this story is magnificent, and Superman has seldom looked as powerful. The artwork and coloring are so mesmerizing that after reading it I went back and thumbed the pages simply to enjoy the flow of images. My one minor quibble is the blur-effect utilized to accentuate movement in a few select panels. That digital manipulation detracts from the craftsmanship of the artwork. Brian Azzarello’s story is intriguing, but the execution of the story is flawed. The plot involves Superman investigating am effect called “the vanishing” which has plagued thousands of people worldwide, including his beloved wife, Lois Lane. Readers unfamiliar with this iteration of the Superman world, or who didn’t follow the vanishing story-arc throughout the many DC titles, will be baffled at first. I believe the comic book industry has suffered for decades from the lack of stand-alone stories that don’t force readers to buy multiple titles to finish a story arc. Whereas two or three part stories were once special, today we have running soap operas designed to pull money from your pockets as you purchase dozens of titles just to see what happens next. Superman for Tomorrow is the perfect example of why that business model and editorial directive has contributed to a dwindling readership. The story is disjointed. With that said, Brian Azzarello turns in a good but not great story that manages to build sympathy for Superman’s plight. The inclusion of Wonder Woman and other Justice League members adds a touch of nostalgia, and certainly both Wonder Woman and Lois Lane have seldom looked so appealing. I am speaking, naturally, from a strictly male viewpoint. The artwork by Jim Lee and Scott Williams is the real reason to pick this one up, and delve into an imaginative world of flying heroes and some very scary bad-asses from the Phantom Zone.

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