SUPERMAN : AME RICAN ALIEN
released OUT NOW! Publisher DC Comics Writer Max Landis Artists Various
If there’s one character we really don’t need to see another “reinterpreted origin” for it’s Superman, but DC’s latest miniseries shows there are still interesting angles to explore on the Man of Steel’s formative years. Instead of simply rehashing the classic origin story, Superman: American Alien is a collection of six standalone tales ( each with a different artist) that focus on definitive moments in Clark’s life, from his discovery of his flight powers to his first confrontation with criminals.
Written by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, American Alien is a grittier take on Superman’s early years than comics fans are used to. However, while Landis adds rougher edges to Clark Kent’s day- to- day existence, he also makes sure the character’s essential decency still shines through.
He’s helped in this by the artists who brilliantly capture the specific mood of each issue, from Nick Dragotta’s energetic work depicting Clark’s boyhood, to Tommy Lee Edwards’s much more atmospheric and noir- ish portrait of Superman’s teenage years. Three issues in, the anthology style is working well, matched with Landis’s smart take on the characters and a more realistic approach to dialogue.
In fact, Landis gets so much right that it’s a pity when he makes a few missteps, especially some overplayed moments of violence in the crime- based second issue. Nevertheless, so far this is one of the more interesting portrayals of Superman that we’ve seen for some time, and proof that DC is still capable of putting out adventurous superhero comics when they really try. Saxon Bullock
Is it a plane? Er, yes.