Review: Superman #0 / Written by: Scott Lobdell / Art by: Kenneth Rocafort / Publisher: DC / Release: Out Now
Over the past year, writer Scott Lobdell has been the focal point of quite a bit of mudslinging from the most ardent corners of internet fandom, but with Superman #0, he’s put forth an issue that’s strong enough to silence even the most stubborn of naysayers. Working alongside Kenneth Rocafort, who also worked with the writer on Red Hood and the Outlaws, Lobdell has crafted a story that is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of DC’s Zero Month.
Several of the New 52 zero issues covered tried and true origin stories, presenting readers with material that tread familiar waters while tweaking a detail here and there. With Superman #0, Lobdell took that formula and broke it over his knee when he delved beyond Clark Kent’s humble Midwestern beginnings in Smallville and took us on a journey all the way to Krypton. Rocafort’s crisp line work is a perfect match for the sleek, technologically advanced Krypton and his clever use of the famous S shield motif in his panel layouts is the rich chocolate sauce on this already delicious sundae.
The story begins with Jor-El, Superman’s father, discovering that Krypton’s days are numbered and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. As if that wasn’t enough of an emotional bombshell, his wife, Lara, informs him of her pregnancy almost as soon as he sets foot inside their front door. What should have been a joyous occasion is marred by their planet’s impending and inevitable doom and the reveal that forces far more nefarious than a simple natural disaster are behind it. On cue, a strike team headed by Jor-El’s ex-girlfriend, Aranna bursts onto the scene, determined to silence the scientist lest he spill the beans about Krypton’s demise.
Despite the bombastic explosions and page-defying fight scenes, Superman #0 is, at its heart, a story about love and family. Though the specter of Krypton has loomed over Superman’s mythology for the better part of eight decades, Lobdell’s side trip to the planet that started it all feels particularly raw. We know how this story ends but we find ourselves rooting for Jor-El and Lara in spite of it all. Superman’s narration informs us that while Jor-El and Lara’s marriage was truly a partnership of intellectual equals, he might take after his mother more than we thought. As Lara flits through the air, deftly taking out those who would see her and Jor-El dead to keep Krypton’s fate a secret, Superman says, “As they were since the moment they met, my parents were nothing less than formidable. My mother? A little more so.”
As a standalone issue, we couldn’t have asked for much more. One would be hard-pressed to find a person on the face of this earth who is unfamiliar with Superman’s origin story, but Lobdell injects a sense of tragic urgency into his retelling of Krypton’s final moments. The surprise twist at the end is a gamble that’s bound to divide the fandom though we’ll refrain from spoiling it here. We will say that it was a bold move that shakes the Man of Steel’s origin story right down to its doomed Kryptonian core.