Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Superman: Red & Blue #1 Review

Never Meet Your Heroes

Writer: Marguerite Bennett, Wes Craig, Brandon M. Easton, John Ridley, Dan Watters Artist: Wes Craig, Clayton Henry, Steve Lieber, Dani Strips, Jill Thompson
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: March 16, 2021

Superman: Red & Blue #1 is an anthology of short stories related to but not entirely about Superman. In each story, the writer and artists are given the opportunity to address a social issue using Superman as the catalyst. The intent is to seemingly express an important lesson about the world around us to the readers through Superman's weaknesses, insecurities, and failures.

Was It Good?

'Good' doesn't really apply to this experimental comic. It's more a matter of whether or not you, the reader, is into this type of content.

Personally, I am not. I'm unable to be moved with stories that teach a lesson by taking a strong character who's always stood for doing good and fighting for what's right by pulling him down in the name of proving a point. I predict this will be a divisive issue, and right now, we could all use a little less division, especially from our comics.

What's It About?


For each of the short stories, we'll cover the creative team and quick thoughts about each story.


Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Dave Sharpe

Clark Kent returns to an Eastern European country to confront the concentration camp warden that imprisoned and tortured him for 8 months during the events of World's Finest #192-193.

The point of this story seems to focus on highlighting the atrocities of allowing a fascist to flourish when the people fail to stand up and stop them. This is a Clark Kent story, and it sets it up that Clark Kent is suffering some type of PTSD. I don't know if there were enough care and space to address Clark's troubles adequately, and ultimately, there is no resolution to the story other than Clark chooses to keep staying positive and hopeful.

"The Measure of Hope"

Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colors: Ron Chan
Letters: Clayton Cowles

Superman attends a funeral of an elderly mother who died from substance abuse. He's confronted by the adult son who reminds Superman he could have been part of the solution to save his mother if he used his great powers to stop the drug trade.

The danger of telling superhero stories in the world outside your window (yes, that's a Marvel thing but it applies here) is that the story is both correct and pointless.IN the real world, a Superman could and would eliminate every threat to society in a matter of days. Narratively, it doesn't work and it's just as heavy-handed today as when it was done (much better) in the Denny O'Neill run of Green Arrow/Green Lantern over 30 years ago.

"The Boy Who Saved Superman"

Writer: Wes Craig
Artist: Wes Craig
Letters: Deron Bennett

Clark Kent fanboys over an applicant to the Daily Planet when he realizes this aspiring reporter is the grownup boy who saved him early on in his career. During a battle with a supervillain, Superman is paralyzed and this young boy carries him up 15 flights of a collapsing, burning building to get him to the roof so Superman's body can get a bigger dose of sunlight. Through the narration, we learn the boy is an immigrant from Mogadishu and he feels a connection to Superman because they're both immigrants.

The point of this story centers on the idea that a boy, who is an immigrant POC, was the only one with the grit and the guts to save Superman. The challenge here is the innumerable plot holes you need to ignore to get to that point. If Superman needed more Sun, wouldn't it have been easier to drag his body a block or two away from the crumbling, burning building rather than (impossibly) carrying him up 15 flights of stairs? The setup is so illogical, it completely discredits the point being made.

"Human Colors"

Writer: Dan Watters
Artist: Dani
Letters: Dave Sharpe

A being from the 5th Dimension (not Mr. Mxyzptlk) has stolen all the color out of our universe, but nobody seems to remember. Superman confronts the being who offers to give all the colors back in a little box with apologies because it didn't realize anybody was using them. Superman spends the rest of the story debating whether or not to open the box because he doesn't know how it will help or hurt anyone. Eventually, he only releases the colors Red and Blue.

The point here, I think, is to remind the readers are about going to the extreme with the concept of color blindness. That we need color to give life energy and depth. But if you stop to ask the most basic Superman-esque question -- "If there's no yellow, how does Superman have powers?" -- it all falls apart. The message is so metaphysical it loses its impact, and then the execution is too silly to make any sense.

"The School of Hard Knock-Knock Jokes"

Kindergarten-aged Clark Kent is super-nervous about his first day of school. He incessantly questions every move he makes and every step he takes over his worry that he won't fit in or make friends. Finding success on his first day with coaching from Ma and Pa Kent, Clark feels better, until he sees a classmate who isn't fitting in or making friends. It takes herculean courage on Clark's part to step outside his insecure safe space to befriend this classmate and bring her into a group of new friends.

Make friends with those who need it. It's a fine story that reads like a decent YA book. If there's any down to the story, it's that this has nothing to do with Superman in any way. Clark could have been "generic little boy A" and it wouldn't have changed the execution or the message one iota.

Bits and Pieces:

Superman: Red & Blue #1 is all about the message. The art is almost inconsequential when you consider the point of each story is to push a message. That may appeal to you or it may not.


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