Friday, 12 September 2014

Superman Adventures, Volume 3: Last Son of Krypton Review (Mark Millar, David Michelinie)

I knew this book wasn’t going to be good as soon as I saw the cover. It proclaims “Graphic Novels For KIDS!” as if a) DC need to produce special comics for kids separate to their main line Superman stuff, and b) the term “graphic novel” substituted for comics, as if one is more respectable to the other. 

Superman is probably the most kid-suited superhero ever. He’s pure child-like fantasy in his powers. DC shouldn’t need to produce special “graphic novels” like this when their main Superman comics should be fine for kids to read. There shouldn’t be hyper-violent/inappropriate Superman comics. 

OK, rant over - this book stinks! Oh and one other thing - “graphic novels” are usually just that: a novel told graphically. This is a collection of 4 Superman short stories, so technically it should’ve been called “Comics for KIDS!” on the cover. Morons...

Mark Millar writes 3 stories, David Michelinie writes 1. Let’s get Michelinie’s out of the way first because it’s puerile. A villain with hypnosis powers makes Lois Lane vulnerable and suggestive. A lonely stalker-ish handyman at the Daily Planet who’s in love with Lois uses this opportunity to make her believe they’re a couple. I won’t go any further because it’s garbage but I can’t believe in a book aimed at kids DC would include this kind of story in it. 

Millar’s offerings are better but still weak. Superman enters a parallel dimension where his Kryptonian parents are alive but his mother wants to take over Earth. In another story, a man Clark went to school with in Smallville thinks he knows his secret identity - and threatens to expose it to the world. And in the third tale, an alien spirit seeks sanctuary on its home planet. 

None of the stories feel very fresh or interesting, at least not to someone who’s read a lot of Superman comics, but there are moments in each that are nice. Like when Superman meets his parallel universe Jor-El, or when Superman and Batman team-up for a ruse against the blackmailer, or when Superman saves the alien spirit by taking it home. Not enough to make them worth reading but still, nice. 

There are a number of different artists contributing art (nobody major) but they’re aping the Bruce Timm/Superman animated show, so the book has the show’s look uniformly throughout. Either way, it’s not particularly memorable. 

DC recently announced that this book would be one of a dozen or so they’d no longer be publishing - forever - and this is the last of three books I bought off that list. Having read all three, I can see why DC made that decision. Though Millar’s written one of the best Superman books in Red Son, this Superman Adventures book ain’t no great shakes and deserves to be ignored. 

That’s the last time I question a company’s decision to discontinue unpopular/little known books - most of the time there are no hidden gems waiting to be found. The gems stay in print. Crud like this doesn’t.

Superman Adventures, Volume 3: Last Son of Krypton


  1. There was a Bruce Timm Superman animated series and it was better than you'd expect most Superman things to be. I remember Superman Adventures being highly regarded at the time but it might be because the mainline Superman books sucked so much.