Friday, January 15, 2016

Superman: American Alien #3 Review

Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday

Written by: Max Landis

Art by: Joelle Jones, Rico Renzi and John Workman
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 13, 2016

I can't tell you how much Max Landis  and his American Alien book caught me off guard.  When it was announced, it seemed like nonsense and I looked at reviewing it as a chore that I would do for the good of the site.  Then I read the first issue and Landis turned my frown upside down.  Maybe it was partly because of the state of the Superman books at the time, but that would really be selling Landis and this book short because it was friggin' awesome!  We got a cute retelling of Clark's childhood with a hint of darkness creeping just out of reach and I loved every minute of it.  Then, the darkness showed it's face in the second issue and it blew my mind.  I know that doesn't take much, but seriously, it blew my goddamn mind!  So, coming into this issue I had huge expectations and was really unsure if Landis could possibly top his first two issues. Well, did he?  Let's find out...

The issue starts out by flinging us right into the action and it's crazy whack funky. Clark is a passenger in a small plane, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and the pilot is yelling, “We’re going down!” Landis then throws a couple of panels at us with Pete Ross and the Kents to get us up to speed...Clark won a trip to the Bahamas and it's not off to a great start...but the issue is!

I don't know if anyone is with me, but after last issue, I realize that this book has a built in “getting used to period” because of the changing art teams, but also because Landis is really playing with our preconceptions of what we expect from a Superman story.  However, once I got my bearings, I was having a ball...kind of like Clark.

The plane does indeed go down and Clark saves the pilot and himself by hitching a ride on a passing yacht  (more like a cruise ship)...where the passengers are having a birthday party for him.  What what?  Remember guys, bearings.  Turns out that it's all a misunderstanding, but if you ask me,  this is the greatest case of mistaken identity since the lady at the beer distributor thought Eric was a young Kurt Russell.  Don’t ask!  The reason it's so good is that everyone thinks Clark is Bruce Wayne!  

I actually laughed out loud at how amazingly hilarious this scene was, but also from imagining the reaction of people reading this book.  It's as if Max Landis is fucking with fans as a sort of cover charge...if you are willing to pay up and relax, you can continue.  If you don't want to, being friends with Dave Navaro isn't going to help you here...just go home.  Screw that, I'm here to party!

I'm not the only one joining Clark as the ship is full of a who's who of characters...Victor Zsasz, Sue Dibny, Bobby Milestone, Oliver Queen and a very forward redhead who grabs Clark (Bruce?) by the hand and leads him away.

Listen, I know that the characters here are a crazy collection that don't all make sense being here, but I don't care.  They make sense in this series and I was having too much fun to care.  Plus, how great is it seeing Oliver as a total d-bag?!?  

Back to the issue, the redhead leading Clark away knows he isn't Bruce and explains the situation.  If Landis isn't setting his sights on the “rich and famous for being rich and famous” set, then I just don't get things.  I know I'm an idiot, though, because I missed all the clues as to who this mystery girl was, but as her and Clark get more and more intimate, I figured it out.  I won't spoil it, but she is a future super villain and someone I never shipped with Clark...until now.   She is also the best part of this issue.

The issue ends with the craziest explanation of how a Kryptonian can get too drunk to walk (the answer...he really can't), Clark showing he likes the bad girls and someone very upset to see Clark pretending to be the birthday boy.  I know this series has jumped years ahead with each issue, but I hope we get the fallout of all this next month.  Please!!!

This issue was so much fun and I loved every minute of it .  Seeing Clark bust out of his shell while also seeing how the 1% live was great because it's just another stepping stone in his journey to becoming Superman.  People may snub it, but seeing him learn his moral code through trial and error is so satisfying and it being this hilarious is a bonus.  Like I said, if this leads to Clark having to pay for his charade, I will be so pumped.

I was not familiar with Joelle Jones’ art, but I am very interested after this issue.  Like Tommy Lee Edwards last month, Jones is a perfect fit for the tone and subject matter of this issue.  I have no problems at all with it and will tell you that even though 2016 just started, it will be hard to beat.  

Before I give you my ending blurb and score, I need to get on my soapbox a bit in regards to this series so far.  I've mentioned before that while most reviewers like to pretend that they never read other people’s stuff, I do.  I read any and every review I can get my greasy little hands on.  I’ve loved reviews and lists my entire life and it's one of the main reasons I forced Eric into starting our site in the first place.  One of the benefits of being lazy and not getting a review up right away (believe me, there are many benefits) is you get the pulse of what people are saying about the book.  I don't let it sway me either way, but I do like to see where I stand.  The reason I'm bringing this up is that this book is all over the place in regards to scores.  There are as many perfect tens as there are four out of tens.  I’m not saying it's perfect, but I am telling you that it surprised the Hell out of me and I love it.  The funny part is, after reading the lower end scores, I might love it for reasons they hate it...Clark isn't acting like Clark, Max Landis is changing up all the rules, this isn't really a Superman book.  The moral of the story is...this might be one of those books that you just have to check out for yourself regardless of mine or any other score.  Just remember ,though, I am always right and always win...even if I have to cheat.

Bits and Pieces:

Max Landis gives fans another great issue in a series that some seem to  hate, but I can't stop loving.  How could I not when I'm smiling like a big dummy the whole time I'm reading it?  I'm still smiling!  The story here is ridiculously hilarious on the surface, but that hides the fantastic way Landis is showing Clark make his way in the world.  It's all laying the foundation of what it is to be Superman and I love seeing it  happen first hand and without an instruction manual.  Add Joelle Jones’ art to the equation and I was hard pressed to find anything wrong with this issue.  Just check your hate at the door and have fun like it's your birthday.



  1. Nice little rant there and I'm still on Team Jim. I wonder what it would be like to hang out with these reviewers giving it a 4.

  2. Great review of a great book. While I was reading this issue, I thought there was no way Jim wouldn't love this issue. I was half-expecting a turd, because the first two issues were so strong, but this issue blew me away. If you buy into what Landis is doing with this series, and just enjoy the ride, it's quite possibly a perfect issue! Humor to rival Giffen and deMatteis at the height of there power on JLI, social commentary that isn't preachy or hamfisted, some interesting DC Universe fan service, and modern stories about the origins of Superman that feel like they SHOULD be cannon. After these three issues, I have total faith in Landis and American Alien to deliver the goods. He is doing something pretty amazing with this series! And that art was perfect.

    1. you nailed it...especially "If you buy into what Landis is doing with this series, and just enjoy the ride, it's quite possibly a perfect issue!" That is put perfectly and the only reason why others aren't liking it...which is crazy to me!!! Even Eric "Continuity whore" loves the hell out of this series!