Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Superman: American Alien #4 Review

Man of Tomorrow

Written by: Max Landis
Art by: Jae Lee, June Chung and John Workman
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 17, 2016

This book is one of my favorites out right now and while you don't really know what to expect each month, I go by the motto, "In Max Landis We Trust."  That is a total turnaround from how I felt before that first issue came out, but of course, that was before Landis blew my mind.  This series has transitioned from fairy tale to dark and gritty and then last month gave us pure hilarity.  All the while giving us more heart than any main Superman book has shown since the beginning of the New 52.  So, It's with a smile on my face that I start this month's issue...Let's see if it's still there at the end.

The issue opens with Clark in Metropolis competing for a  spot on the Daily Planet's Charlton Memorial Laureate Program and we see right away that he is a fish out of water who is going to have to learn how to walk real quick.  The best part of the opener is when he tells his Mom that he is up against some guy named Louis Lane.  I'm sure there will be some reviewer out there that will get on their soapbox about the joke, but I thought it was a great way to not only shock and embarrass Clark when he finds out the truth, but to go full circle when he finds out how kick ass LOIS is.

I didn't mention that the Daily Planet has sent the students to the Cerberus Summit to get a couple of interviews.  It may not sound like much on the surface, but when we learn that the interviews are with Oliver Queen, Lex Luther and Bruce Wayne, the whole thing gets pretty damn exciting.  This issue is set up to be an issue of awesome first meetings and it kicks right off with Lois.

She is awesome, but what else would you expect.  Landis nails the intelligence and confidence and brash confidence that is Lois lane, but it goes beyond that.  After Clark gets his awkward greeting out of the way, Landis works his magic and within a couple of panels it is clear that Lois and Clark are beginning a beautiful friendship right before the readers eyes...whether Clark wants to or not.  Like so many great moments with these two, Lois is in full control.  Then things get even better.

Up until now, the books in this series seem to be distinct chapters in Clark's life that run together, but have little carryover from issue to issue.  That changes when Oliver Queen (fresh from his speech) recognizes Clark...or should I say Bruce Wayne.  How great is that?  When I read this issue's solicit, it didn't even cross my mind that Oliver would recognize Clark from the last time he saw him...posing as Bruce Wayne for his birthday party.  It's a slow burn joke that really paid off and had me laughing out loud.  It also was the in that Clark needed as Oliver whisks him away in his helicopter and after learning his true identity, grants him an exclusive interview.  On a side note, how great is it that one of Superman's first secret identities was Bruce Wayne?

We quickly find out that this Oliver Queen has grown up quite a bit from last issue and also that while Clark is a bit of a greenhorn, he absorbs everything..  While Oliver talks of being a new man of charity after his time on the Island (yes, the Island), it seems like it's as much as an instruction manual to Clark as an interview for the Daily Planet.  That continues when Lex also grants him and interview.

It seems pretty obvious that Max Landis loves Lex...or does he hate him?  I guess it's not so obvious because Lex comes off as both a visionary and an asshole with each word that comes out of his mouth.  It's all very believable and also fitting that Lex already feels so superior to Clark and everyone else in the World that you can only smile thinking how much Superman is going to "screw with him" and his big, bald head.  It's not just what Lex says, but how he says it in this meeting that makes the scene so good and then when Lex ends it by dropping Clark off in the buildings daycare center, it is pretty much perfect.  I hate to say it, but it goes down a bit after this.

It all starts when Clark meets a really young Dick Grayson in the daycare and it starts to feel like we are playing six degrees of Superman.  I liked the idea of Clark getting his Bruce Wayne information from Dick, but everything felt too forced.  When Dick tells Clark that The Batman is the dark who needs a light it was a bit too much.  That continues when he goes back to his hotel room to write up his interviews and is visited by a very special visitor.  It's easy to guess who it is, but it ends up in a scene that may give both a little more information about each other, but again, felt really forced and maybe even presented to mimic a scene in a certain upcoming movie.  It's not that I didn't like the scene, I just wish it would have been a little more subtle.  There was one last awesome moment at the end that showed that Lois always works every single angle and is simply awesome.

I liked this issue, but I didn't love it as much as the first two.  Don't get me wrong, it is still better than any of the main Superman titles that DC is putting out these days, but because it felt a bit forced, It loses some points in my book.  Lois is the best part of this issue and Landis gives us just the right amount of her to make it work so well.

I have a feeling that Jae Lee's art is going to be very divisive when this issue is discussed.  I hated it. I am not a fan of his style at all and while I really liked his Lex Luthor, I hated almost everything else.  I'm sure that some people reading this are getting mad at me right now, but I will no fake the funk and pretend to like something I don't.  This is a huge don't!

Bits and Pieces:

I liked this issue, but after loving the first two, this one fell a bit flat.  The setup was there for a kick ass issue, but it was overly forced and I didn't like Jae Lee's art one bit.  Still, seeing an alternate take on Clark's first (well, second in Ollie's case) meetings with three of DC Comics biggest names was cool and still better than most of what is on the shelf these days.  This one still gets two snaps, but not the twist.



  1. I know its small parts...but i love the Superman villain set up pages at the end of each one. They're short,sweet and just right to explain the characters and their origins

    1. i don't mention them,. but I loved the Parasite one this is very to the point

    2. Personally I still think Mxyzptlk is my favorite so far, mainly cuz of the Morrison level mind fuckery going on XD

      Love this series though!

  2. Geez this series is perfect...How many issues are we getting again?

  3. I've never been a huge fan a Jae Lee's art, and this book is no exception, but it does compliment the story. I think that's one of the strong points of the series, each artist has "set the mood" with their own style and those styles really work well with the individual stories. I'm still loving this book, and can't decide if it's better than Lois and Clark.

    1. i just hate the art and the mood it sets for me is me being upset. I like how Lex looked, but not much more. I do still love this book.

    2. I was not a fan of the artwork either. To me it lacks detail and hard to tell what's going on. It did set a dream like mood for me though which fit the book perfectly.

  4. Agree with most, the art affected this issue for me. In a different artist's hands, I think this issue would have been on par with the previous issues. Having said that, I still loved this issue, and I am still on board with Landis and the series. I like how he finally showed his hand a bit by adding in some continuity half way through the run. Nice pacing. If you squint, you can start to see where this series is going, but only just a little, and I like that. It means I am still just as curious and excited for the next issue as I was for the first, but I now know that this series will have a 'point' other than interesting takes on Clark's formative years.

    Just a something quick on Jae Lee's style. I like his covers. They are interesting and beautiful. His 'take' on DC's pantheon is completely original. But this is the first full issue I've ever seen him pencil, and it left me scratching my head. I wasn't sure if that was Lois at first because I never knew Lois Lane was Asian. One thing I did appreciate, and I think it was unintentional, was his portrayal of the Batman in this issue as a lot less bulkier than we traditionally know him. It added to the feeling that this early in Bruce and Clark's careers as crimefighters.

    1. yea, i like that we get some continuity stuff which adds a great fold to the story going forward. Jae Lee was on Batman/Superman and caused Eric to give me the book and I hated the art as well. I am all for an artist giving his own spin on a book, but when it throws me out of the story, I personally hate it.

  5. While I can agree that the art was the weakest part of this issue, I think the story itself flat out defines this issue as a solid 9.0 (personal opinion obviously).

    I loved this issue, and yes while the "Dark needs light" speech was more than a little ham-fisted, I loved seeing young Dick Grayson show up and "read" Clark. It plays especially well considering the history between the two characters, a connection that's completely lost in current continuity. I thought it was a nice role reversal considering Clarks influence on Dicks career in the pre-N52.

    For me, the best parts of the story are the characterizations; The humbled Ollie, the irrate Bruce, the inquisitive Dick, the brilliant Lois, and the impassioned Lex are all on display here. But, more importantly, we have Clark, whose invulnerability allows him to walk among these giants without fear, and quite a bit of humor.
    Between Clark's victory dance, Lex referring to himself as a little "intense", Batman's underestimation of the situation, and the "super-car" jacking I had waaaay too much fun with this issue.

    Rock out!

  6. I wasn't a huge fan of the art either. Batman really looked like the, Batman: Year 100 version of the character at points. Apparently the Waynes do not age well in this universe.

    1. lol! Yea, they have their problems. I know it sounds harsh, but I really wish a diffrenet artist would have done this issue.