Previously on Superman: Covering Issues #1-#10
The Most Confusing Superman Story Ever aka Nanomachines Did It (#1-#6)
Morgan Edge, owner of the Planet Global Network (PGN) and successor to Glen Glenmorgan, a foe of Superman's in his youth, buys out the Daily Planet and constructs a new headquarters in Metropolis. Lois Lane takes over as head of the television division of the company with Jimmy Olsen as one of her employees. Perry White remains head of the newspaper division. While offered an anchor position by Lois, Clark refuses, not wanting to appear on TV, and is instead given the Superman beat by Perry.
Displeased by these changes, Clark steers clear of the new Daily Planet's opening ceremony and flies around as Superman. He spots a truck filled with highly destructive chemicals driven by a gunman in a high-speed chase with the police. Superman swoops down and grabs the truck, but it explodes before he convinces the men to put down their weapons. The cause is a creature made of fire, speaking an alien language, including the word “Krypton.” PGN starts to record the fight on Lois's order. When a police helicopter is destroyed, Lois calls back the newscoptor and has Jimmy and another reporter named Miko hack into adjacent building cameras to continue providing the feed. Finally, Superman stuns the creature by hurling the globe from the original Daily Planet at it and then using his freeze breath to finish it off.
The next day, Superman turns to General Lane for help in learning more about the fire alien's origins; however, in doing so, he has been shirking his duties at the Planet. Superman is then assaulted by an creature speaking the same alien language as the fire alien, except this time he is unable to see his foe, even with his various super visions. PGN starts to cover the fight, and Lois realizes Superman can't see his opponent, so she broadcasts the fight to every screen she can so the man of steel has a guide to finish off his foe. The moment the creature is down, it disappears, as if it was never there.
Yet another day, Clark is supposed to be covering the story of a homeless squatter out near his old apartment building, but, instead, Jimmy, Miko, and a reporter named Heather Kelley are covering the story while Clark is in Smallville visiting his parents' graves. Perry calls asking about Clark's whereabouts, and he quickly changes into Superman and takes off for Metropolis. The temperature drops around Kelley and the news crew as an alien speaking the same cryptic language and made of ice appears and starts to freeze the entire city. Superman arrives and notices Kelley is the source of the alien's power. While worried he will kill her, Superman fires his heat vision full force at Kelley, disrupting the creature and saving Metropolis, but doing so knocks out Superman.
When he comes to, Superman finds Kelley missing and the police wanting to talk to him. The police try to make him out to be the villain, and they're not the only one. Talk show host Billy McCoy goes on the air with Heather Kelley, talking about the ice monster incident and placing as much blame on Superman as possible. When McCoy tries to get Clark Kent to give his story on the show, Kelley covers for Clark, saying he was never supposed to be at the scene. After McCoy's show, Clark thanks her for covering for him and then suddenly finds himself in his Superman costume in his old apartment building along with the fire, invisible, and ice aliens. When Superman demands to know where they came from, they cryptically respond, “You” and then swarm Superman with insects.
A doppelganger “Superman” kidnaps Billy McCoy and throws him off of the PGN building. Supergirl rescues him and confronts “Superman” but is beaten to a pulp. Meanwhile, the real Superman is in space controlled by the bugs but possesses a link to the fake “Superman.” When Superman hears Lois cry out about “Superman” killing Supergirl, he shakes off the bugs and comes back to Metropolis. Realizing the insects are in fact nanomachines from his costume, which he first retrieved from the alien ship known as the Collector of Worlds five years ago and that the fire, invisible, and ice aliens and doppelganger “Superman” were all products of the nano-suit adapting to his various powers. The fact that he figures this out has no bearing on the story, as Superman beats the crap out of his doppelganger until it falls to pieces and repairs his reputation.
Hel and Back (#7-#8)
Superman defeats an alien robot and delivers it to S.T.A.R. Labs. Back at the Daily Planet, Clark is overwhelmed by requests: Perry needs a rewrite on the latest Superman story, Jimmy needs a place to crash, and Lois needs Clark to pick up her sister Lucy from the monorail station. Clark misses all of this. The alien being, Helspont, reactivates his robot, which teleports into the Daily Planet. Clark exits and comes back as Superman. Upon touching it, the robot teleports him to the Himalayas and to Helspont. Helspont plans to conquer the Earth and wants Superman, as the most powerful being on the planet, to join him in exchange for a percentage of ownership of Earth. He further tries to convince Superman by attaching an alien squid to his face, which shows Superman an alternate world, which Helspont insists is the future, where he is hunted down. Superman rips off the squid, talks some more, and then fights Helspont until he teleports away. Meanwhile, Clark completely forgot about Jimmy and to pick up Lucy.
Secrets & Lies (#9-#10)
Superman rescues a damaged Russian submarine taking on water. Suspiciously, parts of the ship are lead-lined, preventing Superman's X-ray vision from penetrating them. The sub's captain insists that he and his crew are okay and tries to get Superman to move on.
Back at PGN's offices, Victor Barnes pitches a story of Superman's true identity to Lois; however, she doesn't buy it without proof to show her. Barnes then catches the news report about Superman saving the Russian sub and hangs around the alleys near the Daily Planet on the off chance he can snag a picture of Superman turning into his alternate identity, which pays off. Barnes then goes to Edge with his picture and cursory evidence, and Edge runs the story without hesitation. Superman is revealed to be one Spence Becker, a software designer, husband, and father. Meanwhile, Clark arrives at the Planet where he apologizes profusely to Lois for abandoning Lucy. Lois insists Clark can make it up by taking the Lanes to dinner that evening on his dime.
A woman named Anguish breaks into the Metropolis National Bank but only takes a single item, a locket, from a safety deposit box. Security and Superman attempt to stop her, but she is both super strong and has the ability to phase through matter. Anguish reveals the locket contains the only picture left of her mother. In an effort to slow her down, Superman steals the locket but breaks it accidentally during their fight. Anguish then decides the only way to get back at Superman is to hurt his “wife and daughter” and makes her way to Becker's house. Lois confronts Superman about being Spence Becker, but Superman denies everything. Anguish tries to kill Becker's family, but Superman stops her. Superman reveals he repaired the locket with his heat vision and gives it back to Anguish, who leaves. Becker arrives home and is grateful to see his family unharmed. Barnes refuses to acknowledge that Becker and Superman are not the same person despite standing side-by-side. Becker then decks Barnes for being a moron.
No Kryptonite: Mercifully, Kryptonite does not make an appearance in Superman. While it's still difficult to believe Clark is in any real danger, the various creative teams do a good job of placing him in difficult situations without resorting to Superman's primary weakness.
Changes to Formula: So far we've had very few staples of the Superman comics that came before. New villains have been introduced, new challenges, and even the relationships Clark has have been drastically altered.
Wordy, Oh So Wordy: I like to read but there is such a thing as too many words for a medium, and Superman hits that mark and keeps going and going. Most of the New 52 I can sit down and read all in one sitting, but not Superman, which would deliver plot headaches and make me cringe when I went to read it again.
Cheesy: This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Superman's cheesiness makes the book endearing and different but on the other hand it's made me say, “Really?” a lot.
Anguish: My dad was an a-- and you destroyed my locket, so I'm going to kill your family!
Superman: Here, I welded the locket back together with my heat vision!
Anguish: Thanks! Not going to kill your family now! Bye!
Connections: I've appreciated that the bulk of the New 52 can be read on their own without the need to pick up dozens of other books, but starting in Superman #1, links are made to Action Comics (understandable), Stormwatch, and Grifter and most of these connections seemed to be in a “See, something else is happening. You should go buy these books. Please give us money.” way.
Lucy Lane: Lois' sister is moving to Metropolis and her first impression of Clark, who abandoned her at the monorail station, is not a good one. Assuming he actually attends the dinner, Clark having to contend with the Lane girls should be fun.
Clark's Funk: Clark has been preoccupied by all of the changes in his life including the move to PGN and his own conflicting emotions regarding Lois. In the earlier issues everyone was commenting on Clark being out of sorts, and he's blown off a lot of work. I'm waiting for the moment for Clark's issues to be explained and for him to pull himself together.
Russian Plots: The sub Superman saves had something clearly dangerous to him inside, something the Russians recovered from the ocean. Perhaps some alien component from Superman's arrival on Earth, the Collector of Worlds, or maybe the long-awaited (only not really) arrival of Kryptonite.