Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
Written by Jody Houser
Art by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage
Color Art by Andrew Dalhouse
Letters by Dave Sharpe
“Aside from being a flying doom magnet, yeah. I’m great.”
I have not read a Valiant title in years. I’m not exactly familiar with its characters or its universe, but when I saw all of the gorgeous images of this bright, happy superheroine, I had to snatch it up. Fortunately for me, Faith is incredibly accessible to new readers. Faith Herbert, known to the world as a psiot (superpowered person) called Zephyr, used to be part of a team but now flies solo—so solo, in fact, that she’s created a whole new alias. One can never fully escape their past, however, and soon enough she finds herself reluctantly reaching out to those she left behind once other psiots begin disappearing.
Not unlike Kamala Khan, one of the best things about Faith is her relatability. She wants to be a Lois Lane-level journalist but ends up writing clickbait for a pop culture website. She fantasizes about rescuing that handsome blonde-ish actor named Chris who was the lead in that recent superhero movie (a fun dig at the assortment of Chrises in the MCU) while at the same time trying NOT to think about her ex. She’s incredibly hard on herself about her own failures and thinks the world of her friends. At this point I can’t even imagine her sharing the page with a whole team of heroes.
The creative team for this title uses the same device of switching around artists that I enjoyed with Marvel’s recent Angela titles, but instead of indicating a flashback, the art change signals one of Faith’s many daydreams. Faith is an emotional character, and main artist Francis Portela gives her a range of expressions on every page, rendering every detail down to her strands of hair which then pops with Andrew Dalhouse’s bright palette. On the flip side, Marguerite Sauvage’s fantasy scenes are soft and dreamy and full of fun sight gags that give even more insight into our heroine.
This second issue has me worried that they won’t be able to wrap up the darker psiot-kidnapping plotline in a satisfying way, but maybe that’s a good thing, too, because this character deserves on ongoing title. Either way, the cliffhanger ending makes my investment in the next installment a no-brainer.
Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1
Written by Neal Adams and Tony Bedard
Art by Neal Adams and Alex Sinclair (colors)
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
“Well, this can’t be Giza. I mean, the real Sphinx doesn’t have a lion face.”
Neal Adams is an incredible artist with a storied history at DC Comics who still produces great work today. He’s also a very strange man with a lot of weird conspiracy theories and puzzling ideas. Recently DC gave him a sandbox to work in with Batman: Odyssey, a story which combined Batman mythos and Expanding Earth theory. The Coming of the Supermen seems to be a spiritual successor to that book, and I was excited to see just how insane it ended up being. The answer? Pretty darn.
The elevator pitch for this book seems to be “three other Supermen arrive to help Clark Kent tackle an impossible threat,” but that plot is only maybe two thirds of the issue. The rest is taken up by a story involving Superman protecting refugees “somewhere in the Middle East,” and being guilted into adopting a little boy and his dog by a mysterious, demonic-looking green creature. He returns to Metropolis to find it under attack by the hordes of Apokolips, with both Lex Luthor’s private army and the new Supermen defending the city. After scaring off the Parademons, Superman is whisked back to ancient Egypt by the aforementioned green guy to witness the pyramids being constructed in an advanced society, in the service of Darkseid’s father.
It’s a lot to take in, and nothing follows logically. We get snatches of the new Supermen’s conversation (they seem to be Kryptonian, possibly police, and they both know of and revere Kal-El) but there’s not much page time for them, less out of mystery and more from a sense that Adams ran out of room. The battle between the Parademons and LexCorp hovercrafts is suitably explosive, but since we’re thrown in, there’s no real weight or stakes to anything. Lois Lane is reporting on the events throughout, but her narration only serves to show just how scattered and convoluted everything is. And the time travel reveal of a New Gods presence on ancient Earth, a respectable twist, is blown by the obviously Egyptian-influenced design Adams uses for Darkseid earlier in the book.
But these complaints almost don’t matter, as this book is like Adams’s fever dream of a Superman story. It’s an excuse to draw stuff he likes, and he’s great at it, from huge close-ups on the faces of Luthor and Kalibak to the cool ship design of the craft the new Supermen arrive in. It’s a story unencumbered by continuity and status quo, so it has a “greatest hits” feel, with great looks for New Gods stuff, Superman and Lois. The Middle East stuff is hamhanded, but it’s not offensive as much as it is puzzling (a new character who is never named urges Superman to look after this boy and his dog despite his protests that refugee organizations exist for that very purpose, and then he goes “sure, whatever” and brings him back to Metropolis as Clark Kent). In terms of sheer audacity, this book is like a throwback to crazy Silver Age stories, but decompressed to the point that most characters remain unnamed by the end and it’s unclear what the conflict even is.
My biggest complaint with the book is actually very specific: I don’t like some of the quippier bits of dialogue. I don’t hang this on Adams, as Bedard is his co-writer and is clearly there to translate his ramblings into something readable. But there’s a cutesy exchange early on between an old farmer couple about smartphones and “Insta-majig” that’s pretty cringey, and a lot of it reads like non sequiturs. I appreciate that channeling this story into a script isn’t easy, but it distracts from the amiable absurdism and bombast of the rest of the book.
The Rise of The Supermen is a solid enough first issue, but with five more on the way, I might sit this book out until trade. Then again, I’d love to know the name of even one new character from this story, so I guess I gotta pick up issue #2.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!