Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Superman: Space Age #1 Review

Space Age... The Final Misery

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Michael Allred
Colors by: Laura Allred
Letters by: Dave Sharpe
Cover art by: Michael Allred, Laura Allred
Cover price: $9.99
Release date: July 27, 2022

Superman: Space Age #1 re-imagines the origin story of Superman and several Justice League members against the backdrop of war and nuclear Armageddon during the 1960s. The story takes a prophetic turn when Clark Kent interviews a strange man named Pariah, who foresees the world's end in 20 years.

Is It Good?

Superman: Space Age #1 is strange. Without coming out and saying it directly, this 80+ page behemoth acts as a prequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths on a world where Superman and the Justice League have slightly different origin stories from the ones we already know. However, we get the ending first and know this is one of the worlds that doesn't survive the Crisis.

Thematically, Russell leans heavily into the anti-war messaging, using historical events from WWII and forward to get the point across. Now you know if you've ever wondered how many Japanese children Johnathan Kent gunned down when he served in the Pacific Theater. Want to know how many Germans General Lane killed for no strategic gain in the European Theater? Look no further. Russell's got you covered if you've ever wondered what Coast City looks like after a nuclear attack.

There's nothing wrong with having themes that touch on aspects of war and the collateral damage armed conflict causes. These scenes hit strangely in how they have no bearing or relevance to the main plot (except nuking Coast City). Johnathan Kent's scene is a flashback to his service during WWII, but it has no bearing on his present conversation with Clark about saving the world. It seems placed to shock the reader without context.

Russell's plot focuses on the increasing threat of war after the Kennedy assassination and how America chooses to prepare for what could be the inevitable nuclear annihilation. A pre-Batman Bruce Wayne submits a proposal to the military for high-tech tactical suits and armored vehicles (you can see where that's going). Lex Luthor makes a separate and different proposal that, of course, involves a scam, but one that isn't particularly well thought out or even sane. The one character that requires a clever bit of thinking seems to be the one character Russell does not infuse with cleverness.

In the end, war is averted, and a new Dawn of Justice has arrived to keep the world safe.

On the overall writing execution, the pacing is slow, the tone is somber and emotionally flat, but the dialog is generally good.

Allred's art is fit for purpose in this first mega-issue. His style is, admittedly, an acquired taste. Some readers may be put off by the paper-doll-like, pseudo-pop-art character designs, but in a story that's already hallmarked with a tonally weird take on the formation of the Justice League, it sorta fits.

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book. Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts or click here for podcast links and more: https://campsite.bio/weirdsciencecomics


About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Superman: Space Age #1 takes the idea of a prequel to Crisis on Infinite Earth to weird places with a tonally strange story, lacks emotion, and is incredibly heavy-handed with the anti-war messaging through shock scenes. That said, the revised origins of familiar Justice Leaguers are creative, and Allred's unique style fits the mid-Century setting.


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