Tuesday, 9 February 2016
Superman, Volume 6: The Men of Tomorrow Review (Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr)
New parents in a desperate situation send their only son into the void to survive them and the destruction around them. The son grows up on an alien world and becomes a superhero. His name? NEIL! Uh… wha?
The Men of Tomorrow sees lifelong Marvel artist John Romita Jr arrive at DC for the first time ever, a big deal for DC as they’ve had a real problem with creators leaving their company in droves these last few years – here’s a big name who’s actually joining them for a change!
Geoff Johns pens a competent if unremarkable story of yet another Superman-type character suddenly appearing on Earth, this time promising paradise to six million humans on the unimaginatively named “Great World”. Ulysses, aka Neil, has a bit of the Dragon Ball Z about his design (the Super-Saiyan hair in particular) and his character arc was veeeeery predictable. I didn’t dislike him though, Johns being Johns, his motivations are inconsistent going from being fiercely devoted to his birth parents to, mere pages later, not caring whether they live or die.
More Geoff Johns shenanigans follow in the finale where the six million humans that are transported to the Great World miraculously make it back to Earth unharmed – how, exactly? Johns is shockingly bad at endings (see Forever Evil and ask yourself how Batman saved Nightwing) and The Men of Tomorrow shows he hasn’t improved.
That said, the Machinist is a good Superman villain with his mechanised threats and mind control devices and I liked the issue that closes out the book where a temporarily depowered Superman stands up to a kidnapper with a gun despite potentially being killed. Johns writes a good Jimmy Olsen too who ironically does the most good out of all the superheroes with his family’s fortune.
Don’t be put off by the “Volume 6” tag, The Men of Tomorrow is an accessible, almost standalone story. The only details that might confuse non-regular readers are that, following New 52 continuity, Clark had left the Daily Planet to be an independent news blogger which is why he’s being wooed back to the Planet by Perry, and Jimmy had become a billionaire somewhere, somehow!
Johns lays the groundwork though for the new Superman run by Eisner Award-winning writer and the Library of Congress’ Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, giving Superman a cool new power while foreshadowing the reveal of his secret identity that’ll play a big part in the next book’s plot.
The Men of Tomorrow isn’t a great Superman book but it’s not a bad one either. Romita Jr’s art is pretty good (depends on whether you’re a fan or not) and Johns’ script, while patchy, is ok. Considering how tough it is to write great Superman books (see the last five volumes of this series!), this is a decent effort – Superman fans could do worse than read this!
Superman, Volume 6: The Men of Tomorrow