Comic book legend Neal Adams takes on Superman and the New Gods in the new Superman: The Coming of the Supermen hardcover collected edition.
This hardcover collects the 6 issues that comprise Adams’ mini-series, which was released in 2016. It focuses on 3 new mysterious Supermen who claim to be from New Krypton and here to help Kal-El. Superman’s path also crosses with Darkseid and many other New Gods from Apokolips and New Genesis.
Adams may be in his mid-70s, but he is still a talented writer and artist. As a fan of both Superman and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, I was eager to see what Adams had planned for the New Gods in this series.
Adams considers himself a fan of Kirby’s Fourth World. In addition to what he calls a “classic” take on Superman, he wanted to write the New Gods the way Jack Kirby intended. He explained this in an interview with Newsarama:
And when I do Jack Kirby’s New Gods, I’m not changing them. I’m making them the New Gods. I don’t feel that Jack Kirby got a chance to explore these characters anywhere near enough. Once you see them, you realize the characters have so much to offer as characters that it’s a shame they were cut short.
Even on Smallville, right at the end, Granny Goodness was introduced. Granny Goodness from Apokolips. And those of us who know Kirby stuff were like, “oh my God! We’re going to get all the New Gods!” And then the show ended. “Oh no, really?”
As a massive fan of Kirby’s Fourth World mythology and characters, that was more than enough to convince me that this was worth a purchase. Neal Adams may be past his prime, but I still think he has some good stories left in him. So is the series any good?
Comic Books Collected: Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1-6
Writer and Artist: Neal Adams
The official synopsis, from DC Comics:
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! Superman is facing his worst enemies as terror is taking hold of Apokolips. There’s also another planet that has been deemed the New Krypton which is facing some of this evil.
*Some spoilers for Superman: The Coming of the Supermen in the review below.
I don’t believe this story follows any particular continuity. I beleive it is an original creation in a universe where the bottled city of Kandor becomes New Krypton and Apokolips is also no more.
The story is ok, but it can be a bit generic at times. I found myself more interested in what some of the individual characters were up to, as opposed to where the story was going.
Essentially, three new “Supermen” from New Krypton show up on Earth, looking to help Kal-El. It is soon revealed that they are trying to substitue for Superman, hoping that he will help them with their problem on New Krypton.
That problem on their planet is none other than Darkseid. With Apokolips destroyed, he is looking for a new world to call his own.
Superman is also asked to take in an orphaned child by a mysterious figure. After initially resisting, Superman takes in Rafi. There is some fun potential in Superman watching a child, but the idea is mostly wasted.
There is some fun action sprinkled throughout, especially if you like to see Superman and the New Gods going at it. The action does feel big, painful, and real. It’s what you would expect when characters like Superman and Kalibak are going at it.
Overall, there are a lot of interesting ideas in this story, but I’m not sure any of them are connected on that well. Four issues in and I still wasn’t sure where the story was headed. It wraps up pretty neatly in the end and is mostly satisfying, but it isn’t an epic or memorable tale.
This story does get bonus points if you are a serious fan of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. Within the first few pages, we see references to WGBS, Kalibak, Parademons, and a Boom Tube. There are plenty more characters and technologies sprinkled throughout the story.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the characters that were involved here. I had some issues with the characterization and they didn’t always have the “classic” feel that Adams was going for. Still, as a Fourth World fan, I got to see nearly all of the major characters from New Gods and Mister Miracle show up. That’s always fun to see and their mythology has some overlap with that of Superman.
Speaking of Superman, I was probably disliked his characterization the most. He comes off as very angry and eager to fight. He almost seems more like Orion than Superman than this. He never goes over the top with his anger, but at times it feels like he isn’t being logical.
The three new Supermen characters were a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s not that they were bad. They just weren’t involved that much considering they were a part of the title. I liked the concept behind it and what we did see from the characters. They were just developed so little that it was tough to differentiate between the three of them.
The New Gods and other characters were close enough to their “classic” versions. Lex Luthor was manipulative and Lois Lane was being Lois Lane. Darkseid is his normal evil self, although he doesn’t get to do as much scheming as usual, as Luthor takes over that work. The rest of the New Gods were mostly written similarly to how you would expect, even if I was hoping to see more of them.
I have to say I did enjoy Adams artwork throughout this book for the most part. I’m a fan of his style and it mostly appears crisp and clean. He does pretty well giving the appearance of the classic Superman from the past. Superman is very muscular and even has the red briefs on the outside of his uniform. Lex Luthor is also given a more classic (chubbier) appearance.
The look of most of the New Gods is pretty well done. Darksied, Orion, and some of the surprise characters look good. One curious character was Kalibak. He didn’t look bad, but he was absolutely massive. He has always been big, but this Kalibak was capable of towering over Orion, Superman, and the others. That’s not a knock on the art, just a curious design choice.
I found myself enjoying Superman: The Coming of the Supermen for the most part, even if it won’t go down as an epic story. This is certainly worth checking out if you are a fan of seeing Superman with the New Gods. If you don’t like that, you can probably pass on this.
While this series does wrap up neatly for the most part, there is some wiggle room left in for a potential second volume. I would certainly be down to read more of this New Gods and Superman story that Neal Adams has created.