Monday, March 22, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #1


Superman Red and Blue #1 came out last week, the first issue of the prestige format mini. The anthology series sports interesting creative teams and each story will only sport hues of the titular colors.

When the series was announced, I was over the moon. There have been umpteen Batman Black and White series. Maybe it was time for the Man of Steel to get his own prestige book sporting big names and cool color schemes.

Maybe I went in with super high expectations. I so desperately wanted this to be a great book. Now hear me out, it isn't a bad book. But it felt like every story wanted so desperately to be so inspirational and so progressive. And when you pack a book with that much targeted story telling, one after the other, I couldn't help but feel preached to. 

Now I am all about Superman being a symbol of hope, an inspiration. He wants to help everyone. He sees the best in us. Perhaps one such story in each issue would have felt right.

And perhaps I am just a wee bit too cranky. Perhaps the best thing to do is not read the next issue in one sitting but instead read one story each night.

On to the book.



The book opens with an untitled tale by John Ridley and Clayton Henry.

In it Superman visits Lubania, a post-Soviet country which is a thriving financial powerhouse. However, Superman has history there, way back in a story in World's Finest 192-193. Without looking, I knew this story was a Bob Haney tale as in it Superman is depowered and tortured in a concentration camp for 8 months!

Now Clark is going to interview the Nikolai Koslov, camp commander, now a rich businessman. 

Clark has some PTSD from this time, all anxious and sweaty as he sits with Koslov. He  hopes the guy will be unrepentant so he can kill him. 

Instead Koslov says 'mistakes were made back then' and wishes everyone would move on as if time and this hand-waving will wipe away his sins. 

Clark is going to tell it like it is in the Planet. But then at the end, he becomes Superman to perhaps take things into his own hands to dismantle the remains of the shady time. You know, Superman acting against a sovereign nation using his powers.

Superman overthrowing tyrants? Forming the world into his image? It might seem like wish fulfillment but be careful what you wish for. 

'The Measure of Hope' was written by Brandon Easton with art by Steve Lieber. In it a man blames Superman for not answering his letter. The letter spelled out the man's mother's addiction to drugs and asked Superman for help.

Superman is truly apologetic and repentant that he didn't, you know, drop everything to help this one woman and her addiction. 

While the man thankfully says that some personal responsibility needs to play into the decisions people make, he does say that maybe his mother would be alive if our hero stopped all the drugs from entering his community. 

So another story asking for Superman to basically take control of things. Where does that line end? 

But this story is made to make Superman feel guilty for not stopping someone from making the decision to do drugs. 

Brandon Easton and Steve Lieber

Next is 'The Boy Who Saved Superman' written and drawn by Wes Craig.

In this story, a young immigrant drags Superman into the sunlight to get repowered. In this, the boy's hand gets crushed. But he is a hero and tells Superman to move on.

Years later, Clark sees this young boy, now a young man, interviewing for a job at the Planet.

This was a good story but in it Superman is the one who needs rescuing. 

It is good to see stories where people are inspired by Superman and Superman is inspired by people. 

'Human Colors' by Dan Watters and Dani was the most innovative of the stories.

In it, a 5th dimensional imp robs the world of all its colors, even robbing people of their memory of colors. 

Superman ends up getting the colors back but in a sort of Pandora's Box. Batman wonders if it isn't all some trap. (I love how Lois says Batman is always Black and White, a sort of jab at the Dark Knight's minis?)

So Superman decides to release the colors one at a time to see how it impacts life.

You guessed it. He picks Red and Blue to start.

Such a fun and imaginative story.

And then the most inspirational story. 

'The School of Hard Knock-Knock Jokes' was written by Marguerite Bennett with art by Jill Thompson. It is funny how Bennett write a wretched Kara pin Future State but captures the inherent goodness of this 5 year old Clark who has already learned the wisdom of Pa Kent.

When very young Clark starts school, he sees a girl who is isolated, ignored by the other kids. Clark isn't sure what he should do but Pa says people have to help. So Clark reaches out to the girl and becomes her friend. Suddenly she is brought out of her shell. Or maybe he has softened the other kids.

This one was a lot of fun.

So overall, interesting takes on Superman, many with an inspirational and political feel to them.

Overall grade: C+

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