(DC Comics Digital Firsts, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
WRITTEN BY: Jeff Lemire
ARWORK: Jeff Lemire
COLOR ARTWORK: Jose Villarrubia
LETTERING: Wes Abbott
DC Comics’s ‘Digital Firsts’ are a short comic or chapter in a longer arc, releasing once a week and available for .99 cents. They have titles ranging from ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’, ‘Justice League Beyond’, to a companion comic to TV’s “Arrow” and a ‘Smallville’ title continuing past the long-gone television show of the same name. They’re usually great fun, and a nice little bit of a comic for when you want to read but not get too involved in a storyline. Almost all of the titles are very well done, and feature a wide array of creators that change from story to story in most cases, giving a wide range of creators and their particular vision and style.
Their newest weekly ‘First’ is “Adventures of Superman”, and it is starting out in the short comic a week releases, of which there have been two. A new Chapter in this series is released online every Monday, with the other titles filling in the rest of the schedule, which takes a break from releases on Sundays. I was very happy to get a hold of Chapters #1 and now #2, as I’ve really grown attached to a few of the ‘Digital Firsts’, and follow them each week, so I was hoping this would be a new fun one to add to my list of weekly purchases. Plus, I’ve had a growing interest in Superman my whole life, to where I am now totally in love with the character.
But enough pretext. I will say right off that I am so very happy with this title. Both of the released chapters have been really great, and showcase two very different vision between them. Chapter #2 is definitely my favorite, however. I know, there’s only been two, but let me tell you – this is one beautiful and classic story that will be top on my list for the entirety of this series, most likely. It really is that good, that special.
Jeff Lemire is both the Writer and Artist for the chapter, whose work I love but was a bit worried about his style and how it might fit in with the Supes universe. But that’s the thing, again – different creators, different visions. The story here is so full of nostalgia and wonder, and I had an appreciative smile on my face the whole time I read it.
The chapter begins with two young boys outside, heading off to play. The game they are discussing on the way is the good old ‘Bad Guy vs. Good Guy’ battle that nearly every child (including myself) plays some form of at one time or another. For me and my cousin it was GI Joe and Transformers, mostly. We all had our own, and the only limits to the battles were imagination. Sometimes this would cause arguments, sometimes it would be the most fun thing you had done all week. The boys are trying to agree on who will be who for the pantomime ‘fight’, and as they settle on combatants, we enter their imagination. We now see their play-act battles as it is through their eyes, and the telling of the story shifts from them and to the characters they chose. Their fight then plays out like pages from a comic. The dialogue is both very comic book-ish while at times displaying the age of the boys, even dropping from imagination to reality during an argument, transitioning from one to the other and back again.
Jeff Lemire has worked out such a detailed understanding of these moments and emotions that I would be very shocked to hear this wasn’t a favorite pastime of his, as well. The way he uses his artistic strengths blew my worries of his handling a Supes story far away, and it felt like a hard slap to the brain. This chapter/short comic is chock full of the energy and unbound adventure that so much of childhood was about. Lemire’s two main characters are lightly drawn figures, and this gives the beautiful color artwork from Jose Villarrubia a great opportunity to shine – and shine it does. Much like Lemire’s artwork, the color style changes with the two viewpoints – light and delicate in the real life view, and boldly stark and full in the ‘comic’-like viewpoint.
Lemire’s versions of the heroes and villains presented in this chapter are interesting, as to be expected. Overall they are fun and represent the characters well. I did have a problem with his Superman design, though, as he looks more like some washed up boxer than he does Supes. This was distracting at times, but wasn’t too much of a bother as it fits right in with Lemire’s work, so I had expected that. Everything else in this, from the trees, to the clothing, to the various DC characters – it’s perfect. When you have a script that is so personal and effective, full of that glow that only a child can really truly feel, well then you have yourself a classic. And this is. I’ll be coming back to this chapter in the future, if even just to catch a glimpse of that emotion still somewhere in my heart. Lemire taps that so well here it feels like you’re reliving it, even for just a split second. Pure comic book magic.
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27