An Interesting Retake
To be honest, I'm not a huge Superman fan. Often I find him to be too bland or to invincible for my tastes. I love nearly all the movies made, even watched the old TV show on Nick-at-Night when I was a kid. I religiously watched Lois and Clark, read the Death of Superman more times than I can count and love him in Kingdom Come. But overall I always see him in that Golden Age "I can't be hurt unless the writers come up with a way" mentality.
This review is about the whole series since I'm late to the game here but I want people to know, this is good. It's not only good it's great. I'd love to see DC/Warner Bros. make it into a animated movie it's so good.
The basis of the story is that Jor-El, instead of only being able to send Kal-El, can send him, his child and himself to Earth. This changes the whole dynamic of the Superman mythos as Jor-El, being a scientist, can easily help Earth with advanced Kyrptonain technology. Kal-El is eventually sent to live his life with the Kents to "help him adapt" but honestly this is Jor-El's story more than it is Superman's (who doesn't even appear until 30 pages in to the second book.)
It does a great job of telling the story of hubris. Jor-El knows more than the "Earth-Men" so he guides them as he sees fit never accepting the fact that he may be hindering them more then helping them. His over protection of Earth through both his own technology and the actions of his family prevents the creation of four of the most important super-heroes of the DC universe. At first I was worried about this having seen Grant Morrison's butchering of Batman. But when it is revealed how he stopped Earth's saviors from being created and hearing his blase reaction it was just perfect.
The perfect story of hubris in action.
This leads to a very great and slow reveal of the two true villains of the book. A reveal that is no surprise the Superman fans and casual DC fans; but everyone else expecting full Elseworld treatment will still be a bit surprised by (or at least vindicated by) the villian reveal, or at the very least how the villain strikes.
I will admit that the villian fight ended a bit too quickly but I understood why, for story reasons, it ended the way it did. At that point we needed Kal-El/Superman to prove himself to Jor-El and that was what the final battle was about. It was a way for Kal-El to prove to his father that Earth had a new protector, and it wasn't him.
The fact that Cary Bates wrote the story makes some of the last line feel so very right. "The Son becomes the Father and the Father becomes the Son" it was actually interesting that an old Superman writer was given the reigns of this story because he touches on so much that even deals with the modern era such as the Flash, Green Lantern, Batman and Green Arrows's origins.
Renato Arlem is still on his game; his work in X-Factor was excellent and it continues in this book. He captures the "reality" of the situations without going to far to make scenes unbelievable. I still prefer him as an inker but he has started to come as his own as an artist in his own right.
Overall I think this is the best Superman story, away from main DC Universe, told in a long time and I highly recommend it to even casual DC fans.