Superman: American Alien 5

superman amer alien 5

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Superman: American Alien 5, originally released March 16, 2016.

Patrick: You don’t really think of Superman having a learning curve of any kind. He’s basically invincible, faster than a speeding bullet, and stronger than, like, anyone. But there’s more to being Superman than just being a perfect physical embodiment of heroism. Like anyone, Clark needs to decide what he stands for and how he stands for it. These early days of “The Black Cape” (or any of those awful names) demonstrates just how much the character needs guiding principles. Hell, one of the biggest problems publishing this character is that the guiding principles need to be compelling on their own — the action doesn’t make Action Comics, as it were. Max Landis and Francis Manapul’s supurb Superman: American Alien 5 explores the origins of those guiding principles by emphasizing the “man” over the “super.” Continue reading

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Superman: American Alien 4

superman amer alien 4

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: American Alien 4, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Michael: When people ask me why characters like Superman and Batman work so well, my answer typically boils down to: they were the first ideas of their kind and in this case they were the best. The idea of Superman is incredibly simple and yet incredibly amazing. What a lofty goal it is to dream up the most powerful hero around who is a champion for good. Superman: American Alien 4 continues that trend of big dreams and hopeful ambition from all sorts of perspectives. Continue reading

Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 5

rogues rebellion 5Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 5, originally released February 12th, 2014.

Patrick: Let’s talk a little bit about the need for, and the necessity of, spectacle in superhero comics. At first blush, it seems absolutely crucial, right? If our characters aren’t using their powers and punching each other in the face and teleporting and zapping each other with lightning, then like, what’s the point of making them superheroes in the first place? There’s something about the non-stop, out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire pacing of Rogues’ Rebellion that feels like superhero comics stripped down past the concepts of good and evil and great responsibility all that stuff. It’s pure adrenaline-powered action, with only a modicum of scheming to slow things down. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that these are Flash’s baddies — and that we even get some time with Johnny Quick — as the plot ramps up to a fever pitch heading to the conclusion. Continue reading

Superman: Earth One 2

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing the Superman: Earth One 2, originally released October 31st, 2012.

Patrick: You remember that scene in Mallrats where they’re talking about how Clark has sex? I believe the term “Kryptonite condom” was applied rather liberally to that sequence. It’s a funny conversation, and certainly sparks one of those “oh yeah, how does Superman have sex?” questions. So when J. Michael Straczynski explores the issue of Clark’s sexuality, you can’t say he’s answering a question that no one asked. After all, human sexuality is an immensely complicated subject, and there are countless works of fiction that ask uncomfortable questions about it — throw an all-powerful being with unknown limits into the mix and you’ve got yourself some compelling story-fodder. Right? Turns out that when you address Kryptonian sexuality, you need the same maturity and attention to subtlety that you would need to explore human sexuality. I’ve never known either of these to be qualities of Straczynski’s writing, so Superman Earth One 2 is less a disappointment and more an inevitability.
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