Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Superman: American Alien #3 Review (Max Landis, Joelle Jones)


Twentysomething Clark Kent wins a Caribbean holiday but something goes wrong on the way there and his small plane crashes into the sea. Luckily, Bruce Wayne’s yacht is nearby to pick up him and his pilot – and then Clark’s mistaken for Bruce!

Superman: American Alien is an episodic limited series looking at different stages of Superman’s life, highlighting aspects of his character that sometimes get overlooked. Here, writer Max Landis shows Clark as a regular young man who gets drunk, flirts with pretty girls, and doesn’t worry about saving the world – a very un-Superman portrayal but a human and relatable one. 

True to character, Bruce never attends his birthday parties or any social gatherings really (though they’re thrown anyway) and Clark, sans glasses, and Bruce do look a bit alike, so it’s easy to see how the hangers-on at the party mistake the two. The guest list includes Ollie Queen, Sue Dibny and Vic Zsasz(!) though, this being set when everyone’s still young, nobody’s become a superhero/villain yet. 

In an unusual choice, Barb Minerva (the future Justice League villain Cheetah) takes centre stage with Clark in this issue. They talk about their hopes and dreams, about the people they want to be - it’s a little Dawson’s Creek in places but sweet too, and romance is what this issue’s about anyway so it’s appropriate. Clark does come off as a bit dim though when Barb says she wants to be an archaeologist and he says it makes sense as she already studies people – that’s anthropology! 

It’s not all vapid lounging in luxury as Deathstroke makes an amusing appearance, also mistaking Clark for Bruce and becoming confused that a lethal neurotoxin only makes Clark drunk (the alcohol wasn’t going to do it)! There’s also a meta/quirky one page Mr Mxyzptlk strip at the end that’s playful and sneering, which is fine as that’s the character. And when he challenges you to pronounce his name, I’ve always read it as “mixey-pit-lik”, so take that you snide imp! 

Joelle Jones’ art is lovely and makes the bright young things look right pretty. She also looks like she’s having fun with a wild Clark who’s cutting loose and pretending to be a carefree playboy for the day! Drunk Clark is kinda funny to see. 

All that said, the issue feels a little too light without much of a story or many interesting things happening. But it’s certainly not a bad comic and kudos to Landis for showing readers a different, down-to-earth side to Superman that makes an impossible being seem (almost) like any other guy.

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