The six part American Alien series continues this week as Clark gets a little bit older and gets his first gig for the Daily Planet. Armed with only a pencil, Clark must take on Oliver Queen, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor! High stakes, but is it good?
Superman: American Alien #4 (DC Comics)
So far we’ve seen Clark kill a man, get busy with a girl he met on a yacht and generally learn just how alien he is, but aren’t we all?
Why does this book matter?
Writer Max Landis has done a fantastic job capturing a snapshot of Superman through the years and this most likely continues that trend of solidly written books. Jae Lee joins him on art with June Chung on color which means we’ll be getting a much more visceral look and feel. With Clark getting his first gig with the Daily Planet Landis is sure to offer us an intriguing story of the newbie reporter in action.
The story opens here.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is an issue of introductions in a sense—the introduction of Clark on his own in the big city, the introductions of Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and even Batman. Landis does a great job juggling all these characters as Clark attempts to get a story out of a PR event about the three richest men in the world. Oliver remembers Clark from the last issue which helps him on his little adventure here and things roll along well from there.
The fact that each of these characters comes off as genuine, unique and interesting in their own way is a testament to the quality of the dialogue. Oliver is fun and fancy free, Lois is all business but reasonable and Lex is arrogant, confident and slightly scary.
The best moments in this issue though are the clever surprises. Take for instance a moment where Clark celebrates in a goofy and fun way thinking nobody is looking. Or a moment where Lex insults Clark indirectly. Or another where Clark’s train arrives at Morrison Boulevard and Quitely Street (I saw what you did there Landis). There are plenty of quality moments like this in the dialogue too, which make the general experience fun and exciting for older readers. That said these characters are young and fresh and new readers can enjoy this immensely too.
The art by Lee is quality stuff with an almost abstract look to the city and surroundings which makes the characters pop off the page. Lex is chiseled, serious and cunning all due to Lee’s ability to draw each facial expression as though it were his last. Clark has an almost pudgy sort of face to throw off anyone thinking he’s Superman (plus he’s young), but a stature that’s solid and rigid as steel. Meanwhile Lois has a ton of spunk.
You’ll note I haven’t spoken about Batman much—let’s leave that for your read through. Let’s just say that it’s awesome in how it plays out, exquisitely drawn by Lee and a fantastic first encounter for our heroes.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Though I enjoyed Lex Luthor’s scenes they run on a bit too long. He’s spouting rhetoric and goes on so long you’d think this book was about him. A lot of what he says builds up who he’ll become and why he’ll hate the super man that is Superman, but it comes off as preachy and overall redundant.
What a sick intro of Lois!
Is It Good?
I’m not sure you can get a better collection of Superman character-first impressions than in this series. Come for the dialogue but stay for the fun and surprising moments.