GRAPHIC NOVEL
Superman
For Tomorrow - Volume 1

Author: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Titan Books
RRP: 8.99
ISBN 1 84576 145 6
Available 23 June 2006


A cataclysmic event has struck the Earth. Millions of people have vanished without trace. No one has been left unaffected - not even Superman, who has lost his beloved Lois. A year has passed, and as the action heats up and the stakes are raised, the Man of Steel is left with many questions and few solutions. For a hero who tries to have all the answers, it's torture...

Superman seems to be constantly experiencing crises of faith these days, fretting over the conflicting priorities of his busy life, for instance, his work/life balance or the dangers inherent in his superpowers. It's fitting then that in this, the first of a two-volume saga, he should seek the counsel of a priest and confess his "sins".

Is this all-American hero's crisis of faith a personification of the American nation's collective guilt and confusion at the effects of its mighty powers? Writer Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) seems to suggest so as he moves the action to a Middle Eastern country where a dictator has recently been toppled but the new regime isn't much better. Superman learns to regret meddling in this country's affairs.

The art, by penciller Jim Lee (WildC.A.T.S) and inker Scott Williams (Batman: Hush, Danger Girl), is exquisitely detailed. Its impact is boosted by the breathtaking airbrush work of colourist Alex Sinclair (WildC.A.T.S, Batman: Hush). Along the way, the artists pay homage to some of the classic poses from the earliest Superman comic covers. Nor are they afraid to show us a Man of Steel who can appear frighteningly intimidating.

Azzarello's script teases and defies the reader's expectations. On several occasions you might be led to believe that thought panels are Superman's but in fact they turn out to be some other character's. Some of Azzarello's other dramatic twists and turns are somewhat confusing, though, particularly the Man of Tomorrow's battles against four elemental spirits.

Be warned: this volume ends on a cliffhanger, and you'll have to wait a few months for Volume 2 to come out in paperback, though the hardback is out now.

This book, which also includes sketches by Jim Lee, is a daring and stimulating study of the familiar fictional hero.

Richard McGinlay

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