Review: Superman: American Alien #1

(DC Comics 2015)

Writer- Max Landis

Art- Nick Dragotta

Letterer- John Workman

Editor- Alex Antone

Max Landis, the hot young screenwriter of such films as Chronicle, American Ultra, and the up-coming Victor Frankenstein, has been given the keys to DC Comics’ oldest cash cow. 

Yep, Superman will have a 7 part mini-series that will chronicle Clark Kent’s journey to becoming the man of steel.  All 7 issues will follow different times in Clark’s life that were instrumental in him growing into who he eventually will become.

Each issue will be drawn by a different artist. 

Landis puts it this way, “They’re seven stories from totally different parts of Clark’s life; you don’t tell a story from when you were eight the same way as you tell a story from when you were eighteen.”

And it will not be scrubs on pencil duty, either.  It’s a who’s who of industry greats; Jock, Jae Lee, Tommy Lee Edwards, Nick Dragotta, Francis Manapul, Joelle Jones, Jonathan Case and Ryan Sook.

image4The first issue was drawn by Nick Dragotta, and he does a really great job of capturing a young Clark.  Parts of the book convey fun bright tones, making you feel the innocence and explorative nature of an eight year old Clark, while others create brilliant moments of heartfelt sadness and angst of a child that is not fitting in.  The duality works, and it’s clear what Landis meant when he said each issue will have its own feel based on the age and circumstances of Clark.

With this being said, it takes a special writer to be able to coalesce a mini-series with a different artist on every issue.  It’s yet to be seen if Landis can pull this off, but he has aced his first exam with issue 1.

Landis has done something with this first issue that hasn’t been done enough with Clark Kent; make us feel for him.

The issue is simple enough; Clark learning to control his flying ability.  With an average writer that is all that it would have been, but Landis layers it in a way that you are emotionally sucked from the get go.

The issue begins as an eight year old Clark Kent is high above his farmhouse with his adopted mother hanging from his foot.  Clark has the raw ability, but can’t control it yet.  As the issue moves forward, his random floating-off continues. 

image5One of the most moving moments of the story is Jonathan Kent holding Clark above his head and running him through a corn field.  Most kids have a bicycle for this water-shed moment in their lives, and Clark takes this common growing up trope to another level (and why wouldn’t he?).

I have high expectations for this series, and that is probably the wrong way to go into anything; the fall is way worse.  But Landis has put out a fun and moving first issue that gave me exactly what I wanted.  I feel a little weird comparing this to Loeb’s Superman for All Seasons, so I won’t, but it has a similar feel to it.

image3It is out now, and the next issue will drop in December.  If you are looking for something just a tad off-center of mainstream, that still scratches that big boy superhero itch, then pick this book up.  If you like it you will have seven more contained issues that will, if nothing else, let you experience a new artist every month.  And if you hate it…blame Obama.

JonathanJonathan Winchester is a writer from Dallas, TX where he lives with his wife Maddie and their annoying cat.  He believes Han was the lone shooter, that nothing looks better than a silver age comic in Mylar, and that there is no better feeling than walking into a dimly lit movie theater.

Twitter- @TexasWingnut

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