by Kurt Busiek (writer), Fabian Nicieza (co-plot), Peter Vale (pencils), Jesus Merino (inks), and Al Barrionuevo (cover)
With this issue, Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza have crafted an excellent story that focuses on the religious aspects of the Superman archetype, and the result (dare I say it?) is possibly the best Superman story since Alan Moore and Curt Swan's "What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
After Superman saves an elderly woman from being hit by a car, she becomes convinced that he is an angel—and that she has the power to call him down with her prayers. (Al Barrionuevo's cover, showing Superman descending to earth with red angel's wings instead of a cape, illustrates the idea beautifully.) Given his powers of super-hearing and super-speed, her belief in the power of her prayers is pretty much true: no matter where in Metropolis he is, Superman can hear her and respond. But by playing into her faith in him, he risks building up expectations he can't meet. As Clark Kent himself says:
"He's not a spiritual phenomenon... He's got powers, but he's a person, like you or me. So what happens if she prays for him... and he can't come?"We can pretty much see where the story is headed from the beginning, but this foreknowledge simply fills it with the power of fable and parable. This story does everything that a Superman story should do, using the character's iconic status to tell a moving story about power and faith. It's the kind of story you'd expect to see told with Superman stand-in The Samaritan in Busiek's own Astro City (and in fact, it bears more than a little resemblance to the first Astro City story, "In Dreams"). But Busiek's current gig lets him tell this story with the character best suited for it: comics' first superhero. If you buy only one Superman comic this year, make sure it's this one.