Monday, 16 November 2015

Superman: American Alien #1

This weekend I was away at my in-laws, which means my time was not being taken up by masses of housework and 'real-life' problems.

It also means I got free time to read my comics sooner, which is convenient because this past week saw the release of Superman: American Alien #1.

I've been quietly looking forward to American Alien since its announcement. Looking like and described as a series focusing on Superman in his youth, at key moments which defined the character we all know now, I envisioned this being the New 52's answer to Smallville (though maybe a bit better) with the character coming across more as I remember him pre 52 rather than the tortured, un-Superman like character I'm currently seeing in DC's main super titles. However, this last week has seen my confidence waiver due to other 'bad' opinions cropping up on the Internet (I really should avoid spoilers).

That said, I've since realised that I was worrying about nothing. This is because, after reading it, I've discovered that Superman: American Alien is vastly better than I ever could have imagined!

Taking place during Clark's childhood, the first issue follows his learning to fly (which seems to kick in at inappropriate moments and he lacks any control over) and its impact on his feelings of normalcy when compared to everyone else, as well as his relationship with his parents.
And, after reading it, all I can say is wow! This book is such an incredible book and feels so quintessentially Superman in its hope and optimism that I don't think I have ever read a better take on the character.
That's a strange thing to say given its story is a lot about Clark's angst and worry about being different. However, the thing is that Max Landis seems to have really infused this book with heart, especially between the Kent family who read almost exactly like I always envisioned them to be; never afraid, always supportive and it shows how Superman is such a genuine character when he grows up.
But to me, the truly best part of this book is the portrayal of Jonathan Kent who, while starting off seemingly a little afraid of his son's change, really shines as such a great father figure, equal parts stern yet caring. I could truly believe how Superman became Superman with this guy as a dad (and I kinda hope I can be this kind of when with my own kids).

And then there's Nick Dragotta's art, which I feel silly for having doubted before seeing this book (I mistakenly remembered him drawing some bad books on FF. I don't think that was him now though). There's a scene which best encapsulates the whole feel of the book and its this:

This is such a cool, fun and light-hearted panel that it pretty much explains rest of the book, using the art to keep the issue balanced against the angst and worry Clark goes through in the plot.

So, after reading this, and despite having not yet picked up and read my print comics (a couple more weeks before that happens), I'm convinced that Superman: American Alien is my best comic of the month, if not the year. It was absolutely phenomenal and, after reading it five times already, I'm totally looking forward to the next issue now. Even with a different artist on each issue, if this book has the same feel on them as it does here, I don't think I'll ever read a better Superman ever again!!

That's actually a little sad now that I think about it.

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