Superman: Lost #1 Review: A Timeless Figure Reflects Upon Lost Moments

Superman: Lost #1 introduces readers to a new miniseries reuniting writer Christopher Priest and artist Carlo Pagulayan, the critically-acclaimed Deathstroke creative team, focused upon Superman returning from a 20-year voyage that takes fewer than 24 hours on Earth. While the first issue is oriented toward laying out the premise, characters, and various sub-plots, it clearly invokes the rich thematic work that made Deathstroke a stand out series for years. That potent foundation combined with Pagulayan's stunning work with figures and faces makes for a promising start to what could prove to be a highlight of modern Superman lore.

The issue features a stunning rescue sequence in which the Justice League averts an international incident by fishing a sunken Chinese sub from international waters, which calls to both Priest's ever present interest in infusing superhero stories with modern geopolitics and his impressive, but overlooked run on Justice League. From a stunning splash in which most of the team is engaged to constant reevaluations of each unique members purpose in a complex operation, it builds a well-considered, non-violent series of action-oriented pages. They prove to be an excellent showcase for Pagulayan's depth-laden panels and kinetic forms.

Yet the most impressive sequence in the issue is the one immediately preceding it where Superman is shown returning home from the mission. It is everything readers do not expect from a Priest-Pagulayan joint; a slow, quiet build in which the most powerful form in each panel is eerily silent. Superman's return foreshadows the enormity of what he has just experienced and a story only begun in this issue, and it plays like a horror comic. 

It's this appreciation of how time is displayed in comics, shifting from the very sudden to the utterly still, that cues readers into the miniseries' focus on time and experience. Even though the nature of the journey has not been explored, its impact is already felt. As a result, Superman: Lost #1 delivers far more than the premise found in its solicit.

There's plenty of groundwork being laid for the story to come, as well. The issue opens with Lois Lane investigating the misdeeds of a U.S. Senator right after that Senator's aide careens off a cliff with a million dollars. Despite the sci-fi hook that takes Superman away for decades while fighting alongside the Justice League, Superman: Lost seems equally interested in his partner. Lois' investigation grounds the story in an elevated form of daily life in the 2020s and suggests that immediate problems merit consideration alongside the existential crisis now facing her husband. It redounds to the issue's quality that even this crisis is primarily observed through Lois' observations of what has occurred. Priest and Pagulayan's work on Deathstroke regularly engaged with borderline-absurd concepts, but the humanization of their characters and unwillingness to sidestep those concepts' impact is what made the series sing. That same attention and focus are present here.

Superman: Lost #1 provides readers an introduction to a high-concept Superman miniseries prepared to stand alone from the multiversal drama surrounding the character in continuity. It capably lays out the concept, but more importantly addresses what that conflict will reveal. The issue's focus on Superman and Lois' relationship, the stress and strain of their different careers, and how these relate to a broader appreciation of time and perspective promises a big story filled with weighty thematic material ahead. Even after only one issue, it's already clear this isn't to be missed by Superman fans.

Published by DC Comics

On March 14, 2023

Written by Priest and Carlo Pagulayan

Art by Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz

Colors by Jeromy Cox

Letters by Willie Schubert

Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Elmer Santos