Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Adventures Of Superman #10

Adventures of Superman #10 came out last week in print and carried two related stories which brought smiles to my face. I have said in the past that this book of digital first, out of continuity stories has been an oasis for readers looking for a classic Superman. That means more than just the red tights. It means a simpler, purer Superman with that sense of inspiration and goodness that is often missing from the DCnU.

This issue replays one of my favorite Superman tropes - the letters to Superman and how/if he answers them. I have read this sort of story in almost every 'age' of the Man of Steel. My favorite doesn't even star him ... instead it is his friends keeping up the tradition in Funeral for a Friend

These stories tug on the old heart strings in different ways, both showing a different aspect of Superman that made me a big fan of his to begin with. The first story by Derek Fridolfs and Sean Galloway is titled 'In Care Of' and shows how Superman will bring his never-ending battle down to a very personal level when needed. It reinforces his love of life. The second story by Josh Elder and Victor Ibanez is titled 'Dear Superman' and shows how Superman recognizes the battles that everyday people face and how much strength it takes to carry on, especially when you don't have Kryptonian powers.

I loved both. 

You can't go to this well month in, month out. You need to spread out these emotional gut-wrenchers ... at most once a year. But this was such an unexpected treat, especially in contrast to the dour Forever Evil New 52. I have nothing but praise for the creators. In particular, the art complements the stories perfectly. Sean Galloway's Timm-esque manga style works well for a story of Superman battling a monster. Victor Ibanez more realistic look works well for the emotional payoff at the end.

The story opens with Superman battling Brainiac, a sort of Bond-like opening which had little to do with the main story.

It is several pages in that we see the premise. The Daily Planet staff ... known to be friends of Superman (how novel) ... get letters for Superman written to them 'care of'. It is bags of letters which range from pictures of pretty admirers to offers to dry clean his uniform to true letters of gratitude.

Clark actually seems happy, lying in bed reading the 'thank you' notes. It is great to see him so touched by those he has helped.

 Then he gets this interesting note, intriguing enough to have him go investigate. Imagine, Superman responding to a letter personally. It is what I should expect of him.

In this unnamed town, Superman meets Theo and scares off bullies picking on him. Unfortunately after the scene, Theo shows signs of low blood sugar - pallor, sweating, and feeling faint.

 Low blood sugar is best treated with sugar. So we see Superman and Theo in a diner, having an ice cream treat.

It turns out Theo is a diabetic. He has stopped taking his insulin. As a result, his symptoms are out of control.

Okay, so diabetes is a problem with blood sugar being too high. Stopping insulin would mean high blood sugar. Taking insulin but not eating can lead to low blood sugar. So ... things are topsy turvy here.

But things get even crazier. It turns out Theo is the monster in the town. His diabetes is also a mutagen, turning him into this crazy Pokemon. The art just works so well here.

Out of control, Theo simply rages. But in some of his calmer moments he asks Superman to kill him, ending the horror of his life. And surprisingly, Superman agrees.

 After a brawl, Theo reverts to his human form. And he tells Superman to remember the promise to kill him.

I love how Superman keeps his promise. He will 'kill' the monster, but save the boy.

It is this ending that got me.

Theo will live at STAR Labs until his particular disease is controlled. I love how he thanks Superman for reading his letter, hearing his plea, and helping someone. That is the Superman I love ... no problem too small. He is here to help when he can.

It is a never-ending battle. That isn't just when Brainiac tries to level Metropolis. It also is one person fighting. And we all need to help each other.

So a very nice, very sweet ending.

 The second story also is based on a letter to Superman, this one a simple fan letter written by a young girl named Connie. We see how Connie visits Metropolis, sees Superman losing to Metallo, and has the strength to call out and try to help. Brave girl!

During the fight Superman is pummeled, in pain, suffering from Kryptonite poisoning. It is with the help of the Metropolis SCU that he is able to finally rise up and win. And during her letter, Connie tells him how much she knew he would win because he doesn't give up, no matter what he is feeling, no matter how bad things are.

In the end, we see Connie retelling the story to children in a hospital ward, clearly for cancer patients. Superman arrives and talks about how Connie is his hero because she also shows tremendous strength for carrying on no matter what.

That lower panel is so wonderful. Ibanez is able to convey how sick Connie is feeling. But that look of astonishment is perfect, that moment this person she admires so much tells her that they admire her back. It is wonderful ... sweet, inspiring, sad and happy at the same time, fantastic.

While I very much enjoyed the first story, I completely loved this story. It shows Superman acknowledging the small daily battles we all deal with. How our stories are as heroic as fighting a robot. How we need to be strong to overcome our goals no matter how insurmountable they seem.

Even though this is Superman saying he is inspired, this is still Superman being inspirational. After reading this I felt I needed to acknowledge everyone who is working through something, letting them know that I commend there efforts and can help.

A whole solid issue of Superman being an inspiration to a young generation.

I can only say 'wonderful'.

Overall grade: A


Saranga said...

Josh Elder talked about the inspiration for his story here:

This issue broke me into an emotional weeping mess.

Anj said...

Thanks for the link!

What a great story!