A True Masterpiece – Man and Superman #1 – Review

Man and Superman #1
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Claudio Castellini
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: February 6th, 2019

Flashback a decade, DC was in early discussions to reboot their comic line with the New 52 and the comic industry was in the middle of a rebirth. In the shuffle, DC cancelled a story – Man and Superman. Written and drawn from 2006-2009 by Marv Wolfman and Claudio Castellini, Man and Superman was shelved to make way for the relaunch until 2019. Self proclaimed by Wolfman as the greatest Superman story he has ever written, not only does he surpass his own high bar, the issue is one of the best Superman stories we’ve seen in years.

Man and Superman covers the early days of Clark Kent. In a beautifully illustrated and written supersized issue hitting a hundred pages, Man and Superman shines as one of the most personal Superman stories yet. What truly makes it special is not action packed splash pages or Superman displaying his powers in unique and engaging ways. Instead, Marv Wolfman focuses on the life of Clark Kent. Many moments in his life that are often glanced over are given extra time and attention. Clark’s first time moving to Metropolis, finding his place on the Daily Planet, and figuring out his career as a reporter. Being a reporter isn’t just Clark’s easy cover for being Superman, it’s truly his passion. Clark loves to be a reporter, but is also intimidated, a little in over his head and even underprepared. Basically, Clark Kent is human.

Clark Kent’s First Day in Metropolis

Metropolis is fully given the New York City treatment. A city that can be a shining example for the world but also one that is anything but perfect and in need of a hero. Wolfman stresses the fact that Clark is out of his element. He is, after all, a country boy. The bright lights and sounds of millions of people can be overwhelming for anyone moving to a city this different. For someone who can hear literally everyone at once? Even harder. Clark Kent leaves Smallville, with blessings from the Kents and his eventual Superman costume. Throughout the story, Clark knows he will eventually have to make his introduction to the world. His trepidation and fear of the prospect is what made movies like Man of Steel so special. Clark Kent is not a utopian figure as much as he is the ideal of hope for all of us to be our better-selves. Wolfman knows this and explores it beautifully. Clark is constantly doubting himself and it takes the entire story for him to figure it out.

Clark Kent’s First Attempt at being a Hero

I was wrong. Ma and Pa were wrong. I can’t do this.

Clark Kent

Man and Superman is a truly intimate and personal look at Superman soul. Clark fails at both of his life’s goals. He doesn’t know how he will possibly be the “Super Man” he’s meant to be while also struggling at getting a job as a reporter. The story introduces Lois Lane and immediately establishes her as the best of the best in her field and a role model for Clark Kent. It also introduces his ultimate nemesis in Lex Luthor and sets up his arc perfectly. Ultimately this is a story of Clark Kent, not Superman. It’s a story of a kid who didn’t know how to truly embrace his destiny and goes through multiple struggles to truly figure out his purpose.

Not only does Marv Wolfman outdo his own high standards, he delivers on the perfect Superman story for our time. In many ways, the story is better fit for 2019 than 2009. The world is more broken, divided and in need of inspiration. Wolfman understands that Superman does not need to be perfect or simply be a bar to strive towards, Superman can be all of us and all of us can be Superman. Where Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the soul, Clark Kent is the opposite. Clark is who Kal-El was born and raised to be, Superman is his own apex point. Man and Superman is in the same vein as stories like Superman: Birthright, Superman: Earth One, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. In all of these stories, Superman is not the start, rather he is the end and Clark Kent’s personal struggle to be the man he was meant to be is the thesis. Superman has always been my favorite superhero and I have read thousands of his stories in my life, I must say that Man and Superman is already one of my most beloved stories for the hero. Bravo Marv Wolfman.