Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: Superman Family Adventures #1

Superman Family Adventures #1 finally came out last week and was as good as I anticipated it to be. Perhaps the greatest compliment that can me made is that it entertained the 4 people in the house who read it, appealing to the 41yr old, the 13yr old, the 10yr old, and the 8yr old. So it worked for kid, tweeners, and old Silver Age curmudgeon.

Art Baltazar and Franco, of Tiny Titans fame, bring the same sort of silliness and fun to the Superman family here, albeit with something more of a cohesive plot through the entire issue as opposed to joke-centered vignettes of Titans. Sure, it is a relatively simple plot - Luthor sends giant robots out to cause some damage in hopes of  powering his battle suit by draining Superman of his abilities. But infused in this was a bunch of fantastic - from Luthor's being incredibly brilliant but foolish at the same time, to Clark's hidden love of Lois, to the family themselves.

As I said, there isn't much a plot to critique here so my initial plan was to just show some of my favorite moments. After my first go-around, I realized I was going to scan nearly every moment. So, after second review, here are my top six moments from the book (not including the first pages which I reviewed on the Tiny Titans #50 post here.)

So first off, the thing I love about this book already is that this is the Superman Family! Superboy, Supergirl, and Krypto all fly to help Superman out when they hear the destruction the robots are causing.

And Superman is thrilled to see them. Sure, these are younger versions of Kara and Kon than in the DCnU but that works in this format and this book.

But isn't 'Great, kids!' a better response than the Superman/Supergirl fight and Superboy/Supergirl fight we have seen in the DCnU?

This is my second favorite moment in the book. Jimmy is almost killed by one of the robots and needs to be saved by Supergirl. When she sets him down, he stammers, completely in love with her.

I think that Jimmy crushing on Supergirl will probably lead to some hilarity in the book. I also think that Jimmy and Supergirl should have their own relationship, almost akin to Superman/Lois. I think they would be easy friends and work together.

Jimmy actually gets a fair amount of page time in the book. I think Baltazar and Franco are building him up to be a sort of young Mr. Action, someone who is always in the middle of the action and on the spot.

Here, despite the bedlam around him, Jimmy still tries to get Perry's coffee. And, of course, the killer robot happens to demolish the coffee shop. Maybe Jimmy is sort of a danger magnet.

And I wonder if that coffee clerk is one of the authors.

Superman is no slouch here either. At first he seems bemused by the robot attack. But after a while he gets a bit irritated and just takes them apart. I think that mix of smiles and winks as well as great power is just what Superman needs. He shouldn't be angsty or filled with doubts.

He should be happy but determined.

Okay, I'm going to beat a dead horse here. But look! They are happy to see each other! They are teaming up! They are working together like a family ... a super family!!! This is what we should be seeing. I suppose the DCnU is still young and maybe we will get there in the mainstream books.

This was my favorite moment in the book. Supergirl saying 'we're with you, Kal!' Robots being trashed. Luthor being foiled. It's all great.

And Franco and Baltazar have promised a lot of super-pets in the book. This issue introduces us to Fuzzy, a Luthor lab mouse who gets imbued with super-powers when his power-robbing scheme goes awry.

Despite Fuzzy being a flying talking mouse, Superman simply rolls with it, accepting this nonsensical event. In fact he wants to welcome Fuzzy to the family with a super-suit and a trip to the Fortress. Krypto lets us in on one of the secrets of the books. The pets can talk ... but hide it from people. Can't wait to see how Streaky will react to Fuzzy.

So it isn't hard-hitting Superman. But it is a joy to read and frankly, it looks like it will be true to the essence of Superman and his family. I'm in!

Overall grade: A


valerie21601 said...

These type of kid friendly comics helps DC Comics build tomorrows comic book buyers.

I hope one day they will realize it and do more family friendly comic series in the future

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"This is my second favorite moment in the book. Jimmy is almost killed by one of the robots and needs to be saved by Supergirl."

I like that Supergirl uses the exact same lines that Christopher Reeve used when he rescued Jimmy from falling off the dam in the first Superman movie.

Valerie21601 wrote:
"I hope one day they will realize it and do more family friendly comic series in the future."

Like that sequel to Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade that we have been waiting years for? I still want to see that title published.

Anonymous said...

The simplistic, smiling, everybody gets along schtick works for the kids books, but I don't want the regular titles to resemble little kids' books or the 1950s. Keep the relationships complex. There can be some mutual respect, love for one another and occasional team ups, but it has to be a little more realistic. Not every interaction is going to be full of smiles and utterances of "gee" and "swell." Keep them separate but equal.

When DC forces the puerile, feel good old fashioned Superman family stuff, Supergirl almost always becomes weaker, dumber, obsequious and, in my eyes, unlikeable.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I would love to FINALLY see Cosmic Adventures in the 9th Grade.

As for the cousins, to deny their relationship or to make it adversarial, or to make it cold - well that simply wouldn't work given who Superman is.

I have said it many times. I am not looking for a saccharin feel to their interactions, nor am I looking for a redo of the earliest Silver Age stories. But I want them to love each other and support each other.

Anonymous said...

Is it me, or is Jimmy Olsen's character design very reminiscent of Charlie Brown?
Take a second look to see what I mean.


This book ought to be given away in the Elementary Schools it has that sort of a reach, failing that, there ought to be new version every year on Free Comic Book Day.
One thing I can say about DC Comics they have made continual efforts down thru the years to attract younger readers to their universe. Marvel's efforts have been sporadic and unfocused by comparison. Any sort of an all ages Supergirl book is good for the character's long term prospects.