Reviews: Superman American Alien

A Bright, Fresh Interpretation

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.