Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Superman: What Price Tomorrow? (comic)

Writer: George Perez
Artists: Jesus Merino, Nicola Scott
Collects: Superman (vol. 3) #1-6

Now it's time to tackle the other Superman comic.

So, you relaunch your entire line. Obviously you do it partly to try and get new readers to jump on with your new initiative. Preferably young readers, in contrast to the aging fanbase that's held the industry up for a decade or so. Of course you want a writer that will speak to younger readers, so the natural choice is... George Perez?

They are looking to appeal to new readers, right?

Just to be clear, this is not a knock on Perez. He's a very skilled artist and I've always loved his work. But that's the thing, he's known for his art, not writing; had he been put on a monthly to draw, this might have been an entirely different review. But he wasn't.

More than that, he's one of the "old guard", I guess you could say. I've never been as big a fan of Marvel as I am DC, but they've long been better at cultivating fresh talent while DC is more likely to stick to what it knows. Relaunching your entire line and then putting a guy you've used for decades doesn't exactly dispel that notion and it is, in fact, probably detrimental when you're looking to get new readers.

This is all important, because it's easy to tell Perez is from a different school. This comic is very wordy, to the point where, if not for the art, you could be fooled into thinking this was a Bronze Age comic. He sometimes slips into using thought balloons as well, a practice the medium has essentially abandoned in favor of the less glaring narration box.

None of this is to say the book is particularly bad. The "is the hero a magnet for the danger his people encounters" well has been hit in the past, but there's a reason for that. The story also has Superman fighting some elemental creatures and an invisible lizard, which is fun. But if I'm looking to bring new eyes to comics with one of the biggest books in the company, this is the last thing I'd slot in to kick it off. A part of monthly comics is hooking a reader, after all. It may not be a particularly elegant way to put this, but screw it; What Price Tomorrow feels like the kind of thing you'd slot in between bigger runs by name creators, not the kickoff in an initiative meant to bring fresh eyes to the product.

On the upside, Perez has some talented artistic partners. I don't really need to sing the praises of Jesus Merino and Nicola Scott, do I? Their work kind of speaks for itself. Especially Nicola Scott. George Perez himself doesn't do any interior artwork, but we do at least get some covers, so there's that.

This is another of those "one and done" volumes we've already encountered a couple times in the New 52. George Perez is gone next volume. I doubt it will be the last time this happens. DC's apparently had some serious creative issues behind the scenes ever since the regime change. Whatever's going on, they need to get it together.

My Opinion: Try It

Not exactly the direction I'd have gone, but What Price Tomorrow isn't terrible. If you like the way comics used to be written, you'll probably get a kick out of this. Can't say it's something I'd recommend purchasing though. Check the library for a copy if you're interested.

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