You all know I struggle with Superman. Many writers get the “super” right, but fail to truly capture the “man.”
Max Landis absolutely put the “man” before the “super” in this collection, and Superman is all the more “super” as a result.
The premise is short and sweet: Landis depicts key moments in Clark Kent’s life that define the hero he will one day become. As a result, we get to see what is not often addressed: failure. We see Clark as a child fearful of his own abilities. We see Clark as a teenager reluctant to help out for fear of hurting someone. We see Clark take a walk on the wild side with booze, boats, and women. We see Clark get outsmarted and embarrassed by Lex Luthor. We see Clark, for the first time in his life, have to truly fight to survive.
I love this collection because Clark is so normal. He’s funny; he’s a jerk; he’s fearful; he’s clever; he’s heroic; he’s full of doubt. In a word, he’s all of us at some point in our lives.
Landis also addresses some nagging issues about Clark’s childhood such as how in the world did he avoid doctors? The answer may surprise you. Also, with the way kids talk, could he ever really keep his abilities a secret while in Smallville? That answer may surprise you as well.
Furthermore, Landis does not shy away from the fact that Clark Kent lives in the DC Universe. While this is not necessarily the mainstream Superman we enjoy from month to month, this world still offers us a glimpse at Oliver Queen, Batman, Dick Grayson, Hawkman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and many others. The brief appearance by Batman is especially relevant to this Superman’s mythology.
Each installment of this collection is a must-read in part because of the story line but also because Landis works with a different artist for each chapter. I want to say that each artist perfectly embodies the tone of that specific issue, but each of these artists are so talented that they make everything look good. You could assign any of them any of the installments and they would make it shine.
Next to All-Star Superman, this is my favorite Superman story ever. I would love to read more of Landis’ take on the DC Universe.
(Did you enjoy this review? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)