Superman: Villains 1

How do bad guys take the news that Superman is Clark Kent?

The Man of Steel’s enemies react to the reveal that he lives part of his life trying to be a normal human being.

Superman: Villains 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction and Jody Houser
Pencils and Inks by Michael Gaydos, Scott Godlewski, Cully Hammer, Bryan Hitch, Steve Lieber, Jim Mahfood and Riley Rossmo
Colors by Gabe Eltaeb, Nathan Fairbaim, Michael Gaydos, Jim Mahfood, Dave McCaig, Ivan Plascencia and Alex Sinclair

On the heels of the big reveal to the world that Superman spends a good chunk of his days as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, everyone is reacting in different ways to the news. Last month, we saw how Superman’s allies took the news. But he has a lot of enemies, too, and their reactions should be a lot more interesting.

Unfortunately, Superman: Villains didn’t have the emotional resonance of last month’s HEROES special, but it did have a few nice moments.

The big reveal opens the issue, as Superman flies back to Smallville to check in with Ma and Pa Kent, after giving his childhood home a major security upgrade in order to protect them from his enemies. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since Ma and Pa Kent were brought back in to continuity in the final issue of Geoff Johns’ DOOMSDAY CLOCK. But there’s been no indication that the 12-issue limited series was actually going to produce anything that stayed in continuity, so seeing Superman’s parents here was a nice surprise.

Another nice surprise was Pa Kent asking Superman where Pa’s grandson was. It’s nice to know that whatever Doctor Manhattan did to put Superman’s parents back in his life, he couldn’t be bothered to restore any memories of what’s been happening to Jon Kent over the last couple of years.

While most of the villains featured in the issue show either anger or confusion about the new information, one of Superman’s rogues used the reveal as inspiration to turn his life around. Winslow Schott, the Toyman, is uniquely affected by Superman’s announcement. He decides to turn himself in and accept the punishment for the crimes he’s committed.

He doesn’t stay in prison long, being recruited by the new CHECK MATE formed to battle Leviathan. But at least he decided to use his talents for good.

We also get a lengthy segment showing more reactions from Clark Kent’s coworkers at the Daily Planet, culminating with Superman and Lois confronting their boss, Perry White, with information proving that the new owner of the Daily Planet is also running Metropolis’ underworld. It’s particularly frustrating considering the new owner did the exact opposite of what a new newspaper owner would normally do and decided to give anyone a raise. Perry lamenting his naive acceptance of the “free money,” as he called it, was such a true-to-life journalism moment.

In the end, he allows Lois to publish the story, which should have some interesting ramifications for the stories newspaper.

The biggest disappointment, to me, was seeing Lex Luthor’s reaction, which was basically played for laughs in a brief, mostly wordless vignette. They probably could have spent an entire issue on Luthor alone, and considering his status after the Justice-Doom War over in Justice League, who knows when we’ll get a true face-to-face between the two arch-enemies.

There’s a lot to be excited about for upcoming issues of Superman and Action Comics – and the various Leviathan spin-offs – and a lot of it was teased here in this issue. I just wish it packed more of a punch.