Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Adventures of Superman #1

Adventures of Superman #1 came out last week, at least in print form, and simply floored me with how fantastic it was. A digital first book, then put into print form, Adventures allows great talent to write a Superman story unlinked to the current continuity and this book brings together three great creative teams. I know this is a late review for all those who got this digitally. But this book needs to be reviewed and revered.

This book also showcases a much more classic Superman, looking to help, trying to figure things out before punching, and wearing red trunks on the outside! I find it interesting that none of these first three stories has Superman in his New 52 costume. I also found it interesting that this felt like my Superman, read like the Superman stories I want to read. It has been a while since I felt like that. It was stories like this that made me a Superman fan to begin with.

I was simply blown away by this book, completely entertained and thrilled that Superman still exists out there in stories like this.

'Violent Minds' is the first story, written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Chris Samnee, both creators currently working for Marvel.  In it, an addled young man named Leon is ripping apart a Metropolis city block. It is clear that he is under the influence of some sort of drug which has either unmasked or given him telekinetic powers. Angry, paranoid, and powerful, he is confronted by Superman.

How great is that first panel? After rescuing people and minimizing the destruction, he approaches Leon hands up, recognizing his pain, and offering to get him to medical assistance. Superman is here to help. He doesn't throw the first punch. He tries to talk Leon down.

After further damage, including a fireball from a burst gas line, Leon's mind simply burns out and he dies, leaving Superman with a lot of questions and a lot of rubble to sift through.

And then we get a great denouement. It was a Luthor designed drug which unleashed Leon, a repeat experiment as Lex tries to figure out a way to destroy Superman through others. For me the most chilling panel is the second one. Look at the small smile on Luthor's face as he talks about the information gained and the scientific method. There is no feeling at all for the death of Leon or the damage to the city. That is one evil man.

Just a great story filled with action and ethics! And Samnee draws a spectacular Superman!

The next story is named 'Fortress' and is written and drawn by Jeff Lemire.

In the story, two young boys pretend play to be Superman and just about every Superman villain you can think of. From a 'classic' silver robot Brainiac to Bizarro to Luthor, General Zod, Mt Mxyzptlk, and then back to Bizarro, the two imagine Superman saving the day.

Lemire does a great job shifting back and forth between the kids and the Superman play. I like how the imagination panels have the straight edges while 'reality' is crooked. I had to laugh a bit at the over-the-top dramatics and frank assessments of the villains by the boys.

The story ends on a sentimental note. The boys walk home and discuss how Superman never loses.

And then we see Superman, sitting on a water tower. He was listening to the boys' play seems pretty content about their play.

I thought that the boys' play showed that it is pretty easy to 'get' Superman. Even these kids understand him. This was a sweet and satisfying story.

The last story 'Bizarro's Worst Day' was written by current Superboy scribe Justin Jordan and drawn by Riley Rossmo. Of course, we know that Bizarro's worst day means it is his best day. And, as I did in Superboy #20, I love the lilt of humor that Jordan puts into the story.

Jordan portrays Bizarro as a confused being, not malevolent, but endangering people with his distorted viewpoints. And when Superman tries to talk sense into Bizarro, the two end up fighting.

Of course Superman can't talk sense into Bizarro! He needs to talk nonsense into Bizarro! Even I had a hard time comprehending what Superman is saying here. Superman will help/hurt Bizarro to help/hurt people. And Bizarro would love/hate that. Accckkk!

And again, in a sort of classic way, Superman turns a problem into a solution. He somehow convinces Bizarro to fly around a planet for NASA, photographing and cataloging the planet's surface. And, as a bonus, it will keep Bizarro away form Earth for years.

I loved the backwards dialogue and chuckled that even a super-brain like Superman's seemed to struggle with what to say. And, again, it showed some ingenuity on Superman's part to try to minimize the violence and help people.

Rossmo's art was great hear, showing a sort of broad jawed Superman which felt classic in a early Silver Age sort of way.

Three great Superman stories for just under four bucks. My sort of Superman. Unbelievable!

So if you struggle with the characterization of the current New 52 Superman ... if you are looking for a straightforward interpretation of Superman ... if you want to see Superman handled by great and unexpected talent, this is the book for you.

I can't tell you how happy this book made me.

Overall grade: A+


Martin Gray said...

I liked these three stories lots, with one big exception - Jeff LeMire's art was horrendous, utterly wrong for Superman. His Big Blue was like Bizarro cubed, ugly and lunking.

And while I gave the first story a glowing review, I was subsequently disappointed to learn it wasn't at least a two-parter, leaving Lex with a win (for now, at least).

( Fantastic, I'm typing this over lunch at Edinburgh's Our Dynamic Earth visitor attraction and John Williams' Superman theme has started over the speakers; Jerry, Joe, I hope you're watching.)

Anj said...

Interesting thought about Lex 'winning' Mart. I didn't think about that.

I thought Lemire's art was surreal which worked well with the story matter.