Much as Frank Miller has returned to the world of Batman (kind of) with “DKIII: The Master Race”, Neal Adams returns now to the world of Superman with “The Coming Of The Supermen” #1, one of the most non-sensical comic books I’ve ever read and this is coming from someone who counts “Final Crisis” as her favourite comic of all time.
All right, let’s dive into this. Be warned, there may be some spoilers below, but that’s only because there’s no way to talk about this comic without trying to make sense of it.
Written & Illustrated by Neal Adams
From legendary writer/artist Neal Adams comes a threat so epic it will take more than one Man of Steel to handle it in this new 6-issue miniseries!
As Darkseid and the hordes of Apokolips lay waste to the world, even Superman is overwhelmed-but not for long, as three heroes from the miniaturized city of Kandor emerge at full size, armed with all the vast powers of Kal-El, ready to become the new Supermen!
This battle of titans also features the machinations of Lex Luthor, plus fan favorites Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane aiding in the fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way.
To really dive into “The Coming Of The Supermen” #1 we first must have to consider the possibility that Neal Adams has lost all sense of reality. Most people seemed to think that was the case after the acid trip that was “Batman: Odyssey”, but this seems to have been the final nail in the coffin. Even after reading the issue front-to-back twice, I still can’t make heads or tails of it. It’s truly baffling. So let’s try and break this down.
First, you have the Supermen of the title. Adams never bothers to explain what’s happening with them. Three guys in Superman suits land a spaceship in Iowa and then turn up in Metropolis to fight Kalibak. Their identities, backstory and motivations aren’t even hinted at. For a story that’s supposed about the coming of these Supermen, they show up without any explanation and they don’t even interact with any other characters throughout the issue. Hell, the solicit text explains more about their character than Neal Adams bothers to, probably because whoever was writing figured some explanation needed to be given about the entire premise of the series.
But that’s just the Supermen. You also have Kalibak who randomly shows up to lay waste to Metropolis because… reasons? Superman, meanwhile, is in Generic Middle Eastern Country which is marked by a flat, brown landscape that consists of one family being attacked by mortar strikes from the horizon and an orphan boy and his dog who Superman has to adopt because… some insect/demon/angel thing tells him to. I’m being entirely serious here. This thing shows up calling himself the Messenger (and he may or may not be Adams’ stand-in in the story?) and tells Superman to adopt the kid and, for some reason, Superman just… does it? Honestly. I don’t even know why I bother.
Perhaps the cherry on top of all of this is that while the actual story makes no sense, it’s told in maybe the worst way possible. The majority of the issue follows Kalibak’s attack on Metropolis and the new Supermen driving them back and instead of letting the art tell the story or focusing on these new characters, Adams has Lois Lane narrate the whole thing as a newscaster as an excuse to just tell the readers what’s happening. Which is probably just as well, too, because the storytelling in the art is basically non-existant. There’s simply no flow between panels, there’s no sense of place for any of the action and it only serves to make the reader feel disoriented as they try to parse out just what the hell is supposed to be happening here.
It likely doesn’t help that Adams’ artistic style has only gotten rougher and scratchier with time, meaning any character that isn’t in extreme close up (like the only page of Lex Luthor who feels like he’s trying to climb out of the comic so he doesn’t have to suffer the humiliation) has barely any detail drawn into them. This feels like the kind of basic storytelling mistakes an artist with no experience might make as they’re learning how to tell a story in sequence, not someone who’s had decades of experience in making comics. There’s simply no excuse for how ugly, non-sensical and all over the place this comic is.Continued below
Overall, I’d say the only merit this comic has is the strange joy that comes with trying to figure out just what the hell the story is and who the hell this comic is aimed as. Is it for people who like Neal Adams? Because it’s nowhere near the level of quality his work should be at. It feels like a rushed, half-assed attempt to throw something out there with his name on it. Is it for people who want a throwback to the weird, over-the-top comics of the late 80s and early 90s? Because it may have the nonsense storytelling of those comics, but none of the charm. Is it for fans of Superman? Because he barely shows his face in the issue and when he does he’s either confused or hiding. This comic is an enigma. I can think of no reason for it to exist, I can think of no audience who would enjoy and I can think of no reason to spend your money on it.
Oh, yeah, and apparently Darkseid’s dad was a pharaoh who constructed the sphinx of Giza. Don’t look at me. I just show you the facts and you have to make sense of them… or something. Man, I don’t know. This comic’s so weird.
Final Verdict: 1.5 – An unmitigated disaster of a comic. Nonsensical in both story and storytelling and not even in the good way. With all the comics in all the world… stay away from this one if you want to retain your sanity.