Superman #32 – Comic Review

A new creative team takes on the challenge of writing Superman comics at DC entertainment – this new direction contains large artwork with powerful action, and a new character – a man whose story mirrors Superman’s.

Superman #32 offers:

  • Powerful action scenes, and artwork that controls light effectively
  • A new character with a name from Greek Myth
  • A story that shows off the mythic quality of superhero comics, with themes of isolation

Large, splash pages, spread over two smaller pages, shows off powerful action scenes in this new, Superman comic. Light is used effectively throughout the comic book

While the comic begins with the origin of  a new character, a giant opening page introduces Superman. The man of steel knocks down a mechanical, giant gorilla with a right hook. Light changes convey a sense of tension or relaxation: the daily planet office is a cold grey, while Clark’s house is a warm, lighter yellow.

A splash page overflowing with blue electric lights introduces the sheer power of the new character. Ulysses has a name from greek myth, and a backstory that mirrors Superman’s, albeit on much smaller scale. Artwork for Ulysses scenes make excellent use of space. Each panel moves the reader in a circle around the two heroes.

Another interesting contrast is Ulysses costume contrasts Superman’s: Black, white, and grey against red, blue, and yellow. Greyscale to primary colours.

A new male character with powers comparable to the man of steel raises a point about diversity. A  dialog point intended to build character may need attention.

It’s interesting that Ulysses is a male character. Considering DC’s initiatives to add more diversity to their casts, I was expecting a new female character, or a character who shows diversity in some other way. A new female character is mentioned however: a political correspondent name Jackee Winters has started working at the daily planet. Winters and Lane have made friends, and as a black, female character, there’s no questioning the cast has diversity.

There is a dialogue point that had me confused:

“Klerik said he’d find my homeworld and destroy it. I believed it to be gone and that his threats where empty, but … it wasn’t destroyed.”

-Ulysses

So if Klerik threatened to destroy Ulysses’ homeworld, and he thought Klerik’s threats were empty, why did he believe Earth was gone? The exposition confuses a little. Either Ulysses is bewildered, or the sentence needed some more attention to clarify.

The comic establishes a theme of isolation in Superman’s behaviour, and Ulysses origin, and the theme ties these characters together. This issue shows the mythic quality of super hero comics, since myths are constantly retold, and this issue replicates Superman’s story.

Mythology plays a big role in this comic book. The key thing that defines myths are that they are retold. Encapsulated within this Superman comic is a smaller superman comic – Ulysses origin story is Superman‘s story on a smaller scale. Naming the character after a the well known Greek legend only highlights this quality more.

Isolation is a theme that plays out when Ulysses is introduced, and when Perry White a the Daily Planet points out that Clark’s increasing isolation. Ulysses parents, in their brief appearance, point out that their son will be alone in a new world. Later, Clark sits at home, calling Wonder Woman, leaving a message with Alfred for Bruce Wayne, and leafing through photo albums. He switches on his super hearing, and listens to Metropolis, rather than going out into the city, and flying between the sky scrapers.

Ulyesses last comment: He’s not alone anymore.

Popular Culture References:

As mentioned, naming a character Ulysses is a big reference to myths, and not just a popular culture reference: Ulysses, AKA Odysseus, was a Greek king, and main character of Homer’s Odyssey.

Superman #32 is published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Geoff Johns (W.) John Romita Jr. (A.) Klaus Janson (I.) Laura Martin (L.) Cover artwork by Romita Jr, Janson, Martin.

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