Where Geoff Johns goes, sales are sure to follow. Today sees the release of what will probably be one of DC's top-selling comics, Superman #32, written by Johns and illustrated by the artistic team of famed penciler John Romita Jr. and frequent collaborators Klaus Janson (inker) and Laura Martin (colorist). While the Man of Steel is a character that Johns has explored before, this time he'll be focusing on a different aspect of Superman's complex characterization while using Romita's dynamic and energy-filled artwork to great effect.
DC has spent months touting the impending partnership between Johns, Romita, and the company's second largest character and for the most part, it's a partnership that seems to work well. Romita thrives on over the top action sequences and broad-shouldered heroics, and Johns' Superman script delivers that in spades. Inker Klaus Janson and colorist Laura Martin's contributions to Romita's pencils help bring the artwork to the next level. Romita's interiors often live and die upon the quality of their inker, and Janson (who has worked with Romita before) keeps the artwork clean and uncluttered while retaining Romita's signature style. Martin's colors practically pop off the page and add considerable depth to each panel. I think Martin's colors were probably the strongest part of this comics, and help transform Superman #32 from an enjoyable but standard superhero comic to one of the better superhero comics out this month. I also think that Romita and the rest of the artistic team may have benefited from some extra lead-in time, as the artwork doesn't appear to be rushed or ridiculously disproportionate, something that Romita's past work has often been criticized for.
Most of Johns and Romita's opening issue is spent re-introducing readers to Superman's New 52 status quo. Clark Kent is no longer a Daily Planet employee, Lois Lane is with the dashing Jonathan Carroll, Jimmy Olsen is rich, and Lex Luthor is being praised for saving the world. Johns and Romita also introduce a new character, Ulysses, whose origins shares many similarities to Superman's. The son of two scientists from a "dying" world, Ulysses was sent to a world where his physiology, combined with unspecified energies, grants him superhuman problems. However, there's two key differences between Ulysses and Superman: Ulysses is from the planet Earth and he was raised on a supposedly peaceful planet. Seeing as several of Johns' past Superman stories have explored Superman's heritage and upbringing, I have a feeling that Ulysses will be a way for Johns to tread old ground in a new way.
Superman #32 is an enjoyable opening chapter of what will probably be a much-talked about superhero story. Both Johns and Romita are known quantities, and their fans shouldn't be disappointed by what they deliver this issue. While Superman #32 doesn't introduce anything groundbreaking in terms of story or art, that's not what this creative team is known for, and it seems unfair to criticize them for delivering exactly what is expected of them. If you like Superman, big superhero stories, or the creators involved with this comic, Superman #32 is probably something you'll enjoy.