Written by: Max Landis
Art by: Francis Manapul and John Workman
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 16, 2016
I usually start my reviews with an introduction that either includes a recap of the book I'm writing about or more often than naught, my overall feelings of the entire series. In my mind, it lets everyone know where I stand before jumping into a particular issue and puts a little more weight on my score. I'm not going to do that for this review. This book is so damn good that I've run out of things to say about it. I guess I could pull phrases out of the Comic Reviews for Dummies like, "It's a roller coaster ride of emotions", ""The story and art are a perfect compliment to each other" or "If loving this book is wrong, I don't want to be right", but I will spare you such nonsense and just tell you that Max Landis is giving fans the Superman book they want and deserve. If that's not on the TPB then I might just give up. Let's get on with the review for Superman: American Alien #5.
One of the fun things about reading this book is finding out just where we are in Clark's life when it begins. Max Landis has nailed the beginnings of each issue and the way he eases the reader into the story only to bash them over the head with awesomeness is so great. It's no surprise that it happens again this issue as a couple of robbers meet the "Flying Man" during their getaway. Man, I love being bashed with awesomeness!
I'd like to thank Max Landis and Francis Manapul personally for wiping away all the bad taste the regular Superman books have left for months and months with just one page of Superman flying in his homemade costume and trying to figure out what it is to be a superhero. It also sets the theme for the entire issue as Clark learns that there is more to being a hero than just leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
The issue continues with Lois and Clark discussing "Mr. Metropolis" and Clark talking on the phone with his mom and each conversation shows you more of Clark's progression and also hints at what might be next. For me, it's the characters and conversations that have been the driving force of this whole series, but this issue is a little different. While Clark seemed to take in everything around him up until now, he is taking the first big steps in deciding his own fate here. You can tell it's a scary time for him, but you can feel the excitement as well.
That excitement comes to a boiling point as his rooftop Chinese diner is interrupted by the first appearance of one of his more colorful enemies...Parasite! It's a great introduction of a kick ass villain and serves it's purpose of showing Clark as the hero, but also leads to the best part of the book, and maybe of the year.
After Clark subdues Parasite, he finds out that Lex Luthor is to blame for the monster and heads off for a little meet and greet. This is where Landis twists the story around and makes it something special. When Clark confronts Lex, he finds out first hand why Luthor is considered one of the smartest guys in the DCU. Lex makes it clear that being faster than a speeding bullet is no match for his intelligence and when he calls Clark an "idiot", I had to agree with him. Then in a best moment in a best moment kind of moment, Lex gives Clark the name, "Superman!" Damn, I have goosebumps now writing this.
After that disaster, Clark goes to talk with Lois (which is so awesome in and of itself) and we really see that he is shaken up. Is he causing more problems than fixing? Should he just stop doing this vigilante thing? While I think that Lois knows a whole lot more than she's letting on, she tells Clark who and what she hopes this Superman is all about and again, it's a goosebumps moment.
Clark was obviously listening (he DOES have super hearing, you know) and the issue ends with what I'd like to consider the opening salvo of the Lex Luthor/Superman feud. Oh, all the fussin' and a fightin' that is ahead of those two!
There really is only one way that I can show you how much I love this issue. I'm sure you looked at the score below and I stand by it with every bit of my fiber. This is one of the best comics that I have read and reviewed since we started our site.
Francis Manapul's art stands right alongside the story as pretty much perfect. The big and little moments all came together to wow the shit out of me and I loved every minute of it.
Bits and Pieces:
This is one of the most satisfying comics I've read in a long, long time. Every single DC fan upset with the current state of Superman affairs needs to read this issue and series right away to know that it can be better. This book isn't just better, it's damn near perfect!