We may be living in the golden age of the anthology comic, and Superman Red and Blue is a good example of that. AIPT’s Ben Morin called the first issue promising and the second issue, which contains five stories, continues that trend. The “gimmick” of this series is that it only uses red, white, and blue for colors, offering uniqueness to the series that artists can exploit for emphasis or deeper meaning. This series gets at the heart of who Superman is, which is the anthology’s bigger purpose.
The first story is called “Own” and it’s by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau with letters by Pat Brosseau. This story features Martha Kent in a diner talking to some friends about how proud she is of her boy. The title of the story refers to a parent “having your own” or having a child by blood. It’s a heartwarming tale about how being a parent means caring about your kids, whether they’re your biological children or not. Only when Martha talks about worry it’s a bit different, which we see with some well-placed shots of Superman kicking butt or getting some comfort from his parents.
Next is “Into the Ghost Town” by Chuck Brown, Denys Cowan, and John Stanisci, with colors by Chris Sotomayor and letters by Dave Sharpe. This story is set in space and utilizes a humanoid Krypto — who talks with bone-shaped word balloons — and Superman from Earth-2. This story is a wild sci-fi take on the characters that’s action-packed and pure escapist fun. It has an indie art style that’s edgy with its own kind of attitude. Similar to the first story, the use of color is used to create contrast more than anything.
“Patience” by Dan Panosian follows this tale, and it focuses on Lex Luthor attempting to use red Kryptonite to gain an edge over Superman. From putting it in a giant robot to wearing red Kryptonite boxing gloves, Panosian features plenty of creative ideas to show off the red stuff. Panosian’s style comes through strong — from the use of Zip-A-Tone, which he talked about using in our interview, to clever use of spacing to show how fast Superman is when stopping Lex, there’s a lot here soak in visually. The use of red is used to show off Superman’s cape, his emblem, and the Kryptonite that puts emphasis on the theme of the story.
“My Best Friend, Superman” by Stephanie Phillips and Marley Zarcone with letters by Robe Leigh, is a heartwarming short story about a young girl who has something to show off at show-and-tell. She claims Superman gave it to her, but the bullies don’t believe her. This story shows the warmer side of Superman and how he’s quite good at inspiring change and goodness in others. Zarcone’s style suits the story, as it’s warm and good at capturing the innocence of the characters. This story uses red in a way that’s clever, where all the backgrounds are pinkish-red and the characters themselves blue. There’s almost a poetic nature to that choice.
The last story, called “S is for Cyborg”, is by Jason Howard with letters by Tom Napolitano and features your typical self-described hero Cyborg doing his worst. He thinks he’s doing the right thing, but his lack of humanity always shines through. He has a janitor working his secret lair who loves the heck out of him, but soon finds out he’s going to be dog chow for a beastie Cyborg Superman is going to unleash on the world. Enter Superman, with all his positivity and warmness, and the two throw down. It’s a fun fight comic with a message about great power turning on those who aren’t human enough to wield it.
Superman Red and Blue is an anthology that continues to offer a lot in every issue. Five stories for $5.99 is a pretty good deal, and each story offers something a little bit different. It’s also interesting to see how creators utilize the color in different ways while shining a light on Superman and what makes him great.
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