Robert Venditti and Wilfredo Torres’s Superman ’78 has brought us back to Richard Donnor’s movie version of Superman complete with actor likenesses and a story that is a worthy sequel to the original film. If you’re unfamiliar, Lex Luthor isn’t the master of his domain anymore and Superman may be in over his head as Brainiac’s drone has shown up on Earth. Can the two work together to save the world?
Superman ’78 #2 opens with Lex Luthor attempting to acquire a job now that he’s on parole. He’s not pleased with the options he has and shows he’s the antithesis of Superman with nearly every act in his average, boring new life. Enter Superman, who seeks his help with the Brainiac robot head he’s acquired. This sets up a reminder of the juxtaposition between Superman and Lex while establishing these two need each other.
This is a story we’ve seen before, but it feels different thanks to Torres’s renderings of each character within this movie universe world. Even though it’s a familiar story — Lex reluctantly teaming up with Superman — it’s a good one that never grows old.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this issue, from a fun scene with Clark Kent and Lois Lane, to the reveal of Brainiac. The latter reveal feels honest and true to the movie universe since you can see an actor could have played the character based on the design. There’s also a callback to one of the kookiest Superman powers even the most staunch Richard Donner fans argue is rather silly. I won’t spoil that here, but you’ll know it when you see it.
This issue also works well as it never fails to remember Christopher Reeve’s Superman’s greatest power was empathy and care for others. You see that in how the final scene plays out and it serves as a good cliffhanger, especially since we don’t yet know how powerful Brainiac is in the movie universe.
Torres does an impeccable job with the art with his renderings of vehicles, environments, and clothing as sharp as ever creating a realistic real-world look. As mentioned earlier, Lex looks just like Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeve is spot-on here too. Jordie Bellaire colors the book to perfection, rendering the world in a muted tone to allow for colorful characters like Superman and Brainiac to feel extra out of this world. Superman’s blue eyes shine through too and it’s clear you only see Clark’s blue eyes when he turns from mild-mannered reporter to superhero. It’s a clever touch.
Letters by Dave Lanphear add nice emphasis here and there and some well-placed sound effects too. The use of a yellow outline around bubbles helps distinguish a bit more passion in speech, for instance.
Superman ’78 #2 sets up quite a predicament for Superman, but also for Lex Luthor now that he knows Superman may need his help. The dynamic between the two is one we’ve seen before, but under the guise of the first of its kind movie-verse approach and the spot-on art, it works splendidly. Superman ’78 is making a case for being a worthy sequel to Superman: The Movie, and we’re only two issues in!
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