The return of superman was never going to carry the same blow as the death of him. As Steven T. Seagle said, there’s only one story that could ever have a successful return from the dead, and Superman is certainly no Jesus....
However, having said that "The Return of Superman" is a solid piece of fiction that flows elegantly and highlights why the figure of superman is so enduring through his erroneous doppelgangers: the four false supermen. This novel questions and forces the limits of Superman, (and indeed Clark Kent in the memorable story "Prove It")with the four false supermen trying to fill his boots, each succeeding in some area's but never fully understanding, nor achieving what Superman did. "There's only one Superman" and this tale certainly drive's that point home.
This graphic novel is relevant today, covering issues of religious fanaticism and false hopes diverging in violent counterpoint to the death of an ideal, a hero if our times that is wholly part of the 20th century. Set against the angst ridden streets of metropolis, where clinical depression is rising as fast as the gun crime, “The Return of Superman” attempts very bravely to resolve the good in the world against the seedy underside of the criminal world. The four false supermen, therefore take upon themselves the guilt, anger and frustration of the times, displaying the iconic “S” as a reminder that even the dirtiest of past’s can be redeemed through the ideal’s of which Superman embodies.
The writing never gets stale, leaping from one narrative thread to the next without disorientation or confusion. It is a clearly written, neat narrative, cross referencing other D.C characters and past Superman tales. Art work is clean and at times inventive and powerfully imaginative. However, with the loss of superman’s power, you can’t help but think that the inclusion of the Green Lantern was a little overwhelming and took away from the heroics that Superman took upon himself later in the book. Coupled with slightly gaudy angles and poses the characters perform, helps to detract from the realism “The Return of Superman” tries to establish.
Between the media coverage this book generated and the hype of Superman’s return it is no wonder that the writers fought an uphill battle trying to resurrect the man in blue. While not a tale of ingenuity and cutting edge human drama (like The Watchmen), “The Return of Superman” is a solid work, and comes highly recommended, buy it, it’s worth it even if you are not a Superman fan. It will not change your life, but it will satisfy your escapist side for an afternoon.