Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Boy of Steel Flies Like a Dove in Superman: American Alien #1

Movie and Comic Book Writer Max Landis (“Chronicle,” “Victor Frankenstein,” Adventures of Superman) brings readers a modern-day look at the Last Son of Krypton before he donned the red, blue, and yellow costume and took on the fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Issue #1 of Superman: American Alien is the debut of a 7-part limited series published by DC Comics. The first 22-page chapter is entitled “Dove” and gives Illustrator Nick Dragotta the opportunity to flesh out Landis’s take on the childhood of Clark Kent.

Superman: American Alien #1 begins the chronicles of Clark Kent and his development into the archetypal hero he will eventually become. Clark is soft-spoken, charming, and an often-funny Kansas farm-boy who will grow into the Man of Steel. Jonathan and Martha Kent struggle to deal with their 12-year-old son’s latest quirk - he’s been floating up into the air, sometimes hundreds of feet!

Writer Max Landis gives us a glimpse into the life of the most famous super hero in the world as he discovers his powers and deals with the everyday difficulties of childhood. He captures the fears and excitement of a little boy who must come to grips with the extraordinary powers he’s been equipped with. Landis also explores the doubts and anxieties of parenthood and how they would be magnified if you slowly discovered your son or daughter had bizarre abilities.

Artist Nick Dragotta uses his unique style to visualize the story being told in Superman: American Alien #1. His approach brings to mind touches of anime and golden age handiwork. Colorist Alex Guimaraes helps accent every panel of the book. He guides us through our emotions with just the right tinting for each one.

Superman: American Alien #1 is rated T+ for Teen Plus. The reasoning for the assessment isn’t reflected here. Besides some child peril, I didn’t think there was anything that merited such a strong caution. As the character grows older, I’m sure we’ll see examples of more “mature” subject matter not meant for younger eyes.

I found Superman: American Alien #1 to be an absorbing study. Max Landis is doing his best to bring a new angle to a story that’s been told before in comics and onscreen. I will say that I found myself asking the question, “Do we really need to hear this story again?” We’ve seen the Man of Steel’s early years brought to life in “Superman: The Movie,” “Superman Returns,” and several different books over the years. I guess there’s always room for one more interpretation as new generations are introduced to the ultimate champion of humankind.

Superman: American Alien #1 is available now in print and Kindle editions.

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