Back to Reviews

Reviews Comments: A Bright, Fresh Interpretation Superman American Alien film/book review by Roy Flowers

Being THE classic superhero, Superman has gone through a lot of ups and downs in people\'s eyes. From a comic rendition of Neitzsche\'s ubermensch, to an icon of truth, justice and the American way, to an unstoppable demigod, he\'s pretty much become a cultural staple of the Western world and beyond. Even if you have no connection to the character, odds are you\'d know who you were looking at if you saw him.

Maybe this is why it\'s easy to grow tired of him.

As a kid, I was in awe of Superman as much as Batman and Spider-Man, but there was a time for awhile where I felt the way a lot of people feel. That he\'s overpowered, boring, generic, etc. American Alien is the sort of story that confirms in my mind what an unfair statement that is.

This is a coming-of-age story that explores the meaning and significance of a character like Superman in a way even the most recent Superman films have failed to do. Max Landis is able to brilliantly display the nuances that are present in Clark Kent, as well as a bunch of other memorable DC characters. He highlights the sort of stuff most people tend to overlook or forget about Superman. It truly gets to the heart of the character, seeing the human within the alien at all times.

It\'s also an exciting, often very humorous ride through the DC universe. For as much as it pays tribute to the classical spirit of superhero comics, it does even more to present this world and these characters in a unique way. And it doesn\'t do it with kid gloves; bad guys violently murder people, people have actual conversations about things, Superman curses, etc.

There\'s real love for the material, which you can feel in the writing, which is further elevated by the variety of artists who worked on this.

As I said, this is a Bildungsroman. There\'s not really a great villain or threat that Clark needs to overcome. There are villains and threats, to be sure. But it\'s more about him discovering the kind of person he wants to be. I liked that.

I highly recommend Superman: American Alien. There are a lot of good ideas here. For example, Clark\'s first costume and how he comes about it is very clever.

Comments

  • MiinU
  • 7th Apr 17
He highlights the sort of stuff most people tend to overlook or forget about Superman.

Such as...?
  • RoyFlowers
  • 7th Apr 17
The fact that Superman is actually a rather down to earth character as opposed to the Christ-like alien a lot of people seem to think of now. That there can be real personality to his character. He doesn't simply have to be either a paragon of purity or an unknowable god among men. There's real humanity to be found in his story. And greater conflict beyond having to fight progressively bigger villains.

I'm not saying no one's ever written a story like this or touched on these things before, I just think people nowadays tend to go for extremes when dealing with Superman and it was refreshing to read something a bit more even-keeled.
  • MiinU
  • 7th Apr 17
@RoyFlowers: Fair enough, I suppose.

I'll admit that it's difficult for me to see Superman and other such characters (i.e. Wonder Woman, Saitama, Goku, etc.) as anything other than OP, no matter how much their respective writers try to humanize them. Supes may have his personal issues, but it doesn't change the fact that he's nigh invulnerable and can literally benchpress planets, among a plethora of other super powers that he has.

  • SpectralTime
  • 7th Apr 17
I mean, so? Life isn\'t a versus video. \"OP\" only matters if they\'re fighting, and writing a good Superman story just means a story in which he doesn\'t brute-force the problem away.
  • MiinU
  • 7th Apr 17
@SpectralTime: I meant, in general. I wasn't speaking in terms of vs. matchups.
  • RoyFlowers
  • 7th Apr 17
There\'s \"brute force\", don\'t get me wrong. But it is not the point. The point is what Clark learns from his conflicts.

If you\'re looking for a Superman that\'s not overpowered, this might be the book for you. It goes out its way to show that he\'s more vulnerable than we might initially expect. This version is strong and tough, obviously, but he can be hurt, and is often thanks to not having a full grasp of his powers.
  • SpectralTime
  • 7th Apr 17
Right, that\'s what I mean, Roy.
  • MiinU
  • 7th Apr 17
@RoyFlowers: So they basically made him Ralph Hinkley? 'cuz that was the basic premise of "The Greatest American Hero": a guy with superpowers (including nigh invulnerability) that had to learn how to use them.

In fact, Ralph was a pardoy of Superman. He was bulletproof as long as he was wearing his suit, but he'd often forget and still flinch out of habit whenever anyone shot at him. Sometimes, they'd even hurt until he remembered the suit basically made him invincible. Then he'd stand there grinning (arms akimbo) as the bullets bounced off him.
  • RoyFlowers
  • 7th Apr 17
I suppose. I never watched that show. Knowing Max Landis, I wouldn\'t be surprised if that was an influence on this, though.

In order to post comments, you need to

Get Known
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/review_comments.php?id=16807