Given the fact that I am a fan of the various Who’s Who and Secret Files and Origins series DC has put out over the decades you would think a new version of the idea would have me excited. To be honest I’m not. Oh sure, when I read that DC would be including new Who’s Who pages with their recent zero issues I was intrigued but that’s about all I felt outside of having a few basic questions. What would they look like? How detailed would they be? How would they stack up against the previous iterations? Would they be any good?
Turns out the answer, at least to the last question, was, “Not so much.”
My first reaction when I saw this entry was, “Wow, that’s unattractive.” Beyond the “trade dress” for the entries I really don’t like the main image. I didn’t care for it as the cover to Superman Annual #1 and I don’t like it here. For one thing I am not a fan of the scratchy art style the artist used. For another it’s just not what I consider to be a dynamic, iconic shot of the character. Finally, it has the “flaring red eyes” thing that DC seems to think is fantastic and I think has become a complete and utter cliche. I know that the current thinking for Superman is that he should be a hero that protects a people that fear him (because that’s edgy and cool I guess) but I’ve been putting up with the “red eyes” thing for nearly a decade now and it has become tiresome.
Personally I would have gone for an original image for this but if they were going to use a pre-existing shot of the new Superman why didn’t they go for the one they used as the in-set picture? You could argue that I am saying that because it was drawn by Dan Jurgens and while that does have something to do with it I also think it is a more iconic looking Superman. Here is the Man of Steel saving someone and looking pretty cool doing so. The only thing that detracts from the image is that he is covering the S shield, but another Jurgens image or even one from Perez or Nicola Scott would have been preferable to the main image they ultimately went with.
Artistic quibbles aside there is another big problem with this entry. I don’t think enough has happened or been revealed in the New 52 to warrant Who’s Who style pages. The history is not set in stone and the framework for the new Superman hasn’t been finished. This makes the History portion feel light and incomplete, which kind of goes against the idea of DC’s past Who’s Who series, which for the most part were fairly extensive once they got the ball rolling. Sure you had the odd entry that was light on content (like the Doomsday entry that appeared in Who’s Who in the DC Universe Update ’93) but for the big guns of the DCU the History part of the entries was usually a meaty affair.
In the interest of fairness I could be complaining for no reason. The point of these Who’s Who in the New 52 entries is probably to bring new readers (or I guess in the case of the New 52 new, new readers) up to speed on the characters at the one year mark. These seemed to give the audience a quick and dirty break down of the character and what they can do. Maybe they’ll do something a bit more detailed down the road.
Given how often continuity changes in the DCU I find this unlikely.
More to follow…