Hey guys, I'm back! Did you miss me? I know I missed this. For those of you who don't know me, I just spent six weeks reviewing Brian Michael Bendis' first full-length DC comics project, THE MAN OF STEEL, aka his jumping off point into the world of Superman. That may not sound like a big deal to you, dear reader. We are, after all, together here on DCComics.com. There are a ton of comic book reviewers on this site! It's literally a comic book lover’s paradise!
But what makes me stand out from the rest of my brilliant, passionate and experienced colleagues is that I'm not a comic book "expert." In fact, despite having a great and long-running love for comic book properties on TV and in movies, it wasn't until the end of May this year that I cracked open my first official comic book.
Needless to say, my life has NOT been the same ever since. Six weeks and six issues of The Man of Steel later and after 28 years of faking it, I can now officially call myself a true comic book fan. I'm obsessed, dying to get each new issue in the mail and find out what happens next. Superman is my favorite comic book character, but I'm invested in every single character that shows up, regardless of whether it’s a one-panel appearance or an entire book. I'm hooked for life.
So, when the opportunity came to continue this "comic book newcomer reads and reviews comic books for the first time," only now as a monthly column, covering all of the new Super-titles in DC's repertoire, I jumped at the chance. (Or more accurately, if I'm being honest here, I emailed and practically begged for the chance and my editor oh-so-graciously allowed me to continue this experiment.)
For this first installment, I went into this column not really knowing what I was going to focus on, how I would structure it or even what I was going to name it. I was completely blind, creatively. Then the first issue came in the mail: SUPERMAN #1. I pored over the pages immediately, then when I finished in record time, I read it again. And then again. By the time I came up for air, I had read the same issue four times before I realized I probably needed to do some other work too.
A little while later, I received ACTION COMICS #1001. I read that obsessively as well, but my mind just kept going back to Superman #1. Because, dear readers (or can I call you friends now? I'm going to call you friends now), I still can't get over that Fortress of Solitude reveal.
Superman created an entirely new Fortress of Solitude! In the middle of the Bermuda Triangle! That first image of the Kryptonian crystals shooting up out of the dark, churning waves as it stormed all around the new safe haven was an odd and exhilarating mix of foreboding and inspiring. Foreboding because, come on, we're in the Bermuda Triangle, infamous for its dangerous unpredictability and lethal reputation.
To go from the icy, peaceful isolation of the Arctic to the wild and angry sea that has killed so many voyagers is quite the change (and definitely shows where Superman is mentally and emotionally right now). But it's also inspiring because, after suffering the loss of his home and the bottled city of Kandor when Rogol Zaar destroyed it in THE MAN OF STEEL #3, Supes is able to look forward and continue his life, picking up the pieces (literally) and creating a new safe haven.
But what really struck me about the new Fortress of Solitude is how it's changing the mythology I always assumed was set in stone. I've never actually experienced comic book canon changing so dramatically first-hand. You all may have been reading comic books all your lives and have seen twist after twist take place, but for me, some aspects of superheroes are sacred. In my mind, there are immutable, established laws. Superman grew up as Clark Kent on a farm in Smallville. He wears glasses. No one can recognize him as Superman in those glasses. And his Fortress of Solitude is in the Arctic.
So, watching this new Fortress take shape in the Bermuda Triangle, it hits me. *This* is what comic books are. Yes, the basic mythology has been established over the years, but why can't it change? That's how it all came to be in the first place—an author took a chance and readers initially freaked out at the twist, and the story moved forward, now it's canon. I'm watching history being made! I'm a part of this moment in the comic book culture. When I finished reading The Man of Steel miniseries, I called myself an official comic book reader. But it's only now that I'm watching the Superman mythology change and evolve that I feel like that statement is accurate. And I’m not going to lie, that's a pretty cool feeling.
Then another epiphany hit me: with each new comic that I've read so far, there’s always been one specific story twist or moment or panel or aspect that has jumped out at me in a way I absolutely love. So from here on out, each monthly column is going to highlight that thing that I'm geeking out over, what I'm super into or…what I'm Super Here For. Join me on this ride, won't you? Catch you back here next month where we can nerd out together!
Sydney Bucksbaum covers the Superman family of books and the DC Universe as a whole for DCComics.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SydneyBucksbaum.