Digital Comics…Reviewed! (Superman #700 JMS Preview)

Okay, so apparently I picked out the perfect day to drop the iPad column, as DC Comics shocked the world that very same morning with a fully functioning digital comics initiative. There are tons of things to love about their unexpected announcement—the variety of available price points, a commitment to compensating creators for their work, and an ambitious “day and date” strategy that makes Marvel’s Iron Man Annual experiment look fairly conservative. Sure a lot will be said about that last bit over the next few days and weeks, but personally, I am a lot more interested in checking out the Justice League: Generation Lost series with the first three issues priced at $1.99. But that’s a discussion for another day, as right now I want to officially kick off the Digital Comics…Reviewed! segments with something from the newly released DC Comics app. And because of its brevity and its price point (free!) I’ll be tackling the Superman #700 JMS preview.  

Superman #700 Preview
J. Michael Straczynski (story)
Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer, and Rod Reis (artwork)
Available On: DC Comics App, ComiXology
Price: Free

I’ve been incredibly excited about JMS’ Superman run since the moment it was announced, as I think the character is a perfect match for the accomplished scribe. Know there were some negative comments directed his way when a couple details from his upcoming “Grounded” super-arc leaked out, but hopefully this little ten-page prologue will put all that to bed. Not only is this a very good framing device for a Superman story, but it’s going to bring out the best aspects of JMS’ approach, the kind of insightful and interesting character work that anchored Thor, Midnight Nation, Book of Lost Souls, Rising Stars, Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme Power, etc., etc.  

Even in a relatively short story, you get a sense that his interpretation of Superman will be a great one, and that a direction like this is a clever turn in the aftermath of the New Krypton stories. Superman has lost touch with humanity somewhat, and it makes sense that people on Earth would now feel differently about him in light of everything that’s happened. Hell, the President’s approval rating changes every week, and while the notion that “everything instantly goes back to normal” is an idea that often works in comic books, it doesn’t feel very honest, and some people would need to see an even higher level of commitment and responsibility from a man who’s already saved the planet several times over.

Perhaps it’s a fatal human flaw, but someone is always going to ask, “What have you done for me lately,” and even though it’s an unfair and ridiculous question, Superman is the one hero who will be compelled to answer it in some way. And that’s the initial impression I’m getting from “Grounded,” along with the confirmation that the framework will spark a year’s worth of engaging stories.

Would also be criminal if I didn’t compliment the artwork from the Barrows/Mayer/Reis team, which looks just amazing on an iPad screen, losing absolutely nothing in translation. The detailed line work and the colors really pop on every page, especially on the splash of Superman hovering over the Earth, staring at a picture of two people he might’ve been able to help. This stuff always looks great on paper of course, but there is always a little of the crispness that’s lost during the actual production process, which isn’t a concern here at all. Everything that the art team wanted to accomplish shines through, and does so confidently. With every title I check out, I become more and more impressed by the screen’s brightness and resolution, and its long term viability as an impressive comics reader.

So far, so good on all possible fronts, and I appreciated being able to read this particular story now (as the cover price got it dropped from my monthly LCS pull list) and if I already wasn’t jumping onboard the title, this would’ve pushed me over the edge. This is a situation that will hopefully be the case for several others, leading them into the waiting, well-stocked arms of their local comic shop. Look for more digital reviews in the coming days and weeks, along with something major I’m looking at as a weekly component of all this.    

Thanks for dropping by.

B

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