Why You Should Be Reading Superman American Alien
Writer – Max Landis
Artist – Nick Dragotta (issue 1), Tommy Lee Edwards (issue 2), Joelle Jones (issue 3), Jae Lee (issue 4)
Covers – Ryan Sook
Review by Adam Keith
I guess I have to begin by expressing that I don’t know Max Landis personally nor do I know if his social media persona reflects his actual opinions. I assume it does, but who knows? Some people are monsters on Twitter. I explain this because Max Landis has been a bit polarizing on Twitter. If you agree or disagree or have no idea what I am referring to (lucky you!), I just ask that those feelings not bias anyone’s view of the work on this book. I started out reading this series not knowing who Max Landis was. Then I saw some rather sexist tweets in the wake of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and I was all “Max Landis = turd.” Unknowingly, I picked up the next issue of Superman American Alien and I was all “Max Landis writes this?!?” Then I was all “anger” then I was all “I kind of still love this book” then I was all “whatever, I’m a grown up and I can detach my feels.” So thus concludes the unfortunate Max Landis explanation section.
To understand why I love American Alien so much, you kind of have to know my personal history with the character Superman. I’m a Batman guy and being the “Batman guy” that I am, I find myself misunderstanding and often times flat out loathing Superman. He has so many powers. He’s so perfect. The stakes are so high. Oh, he saved the world AGAIN. Even the villains leave a great deal to be desired. I mean… Lex? He just doesn’t do it for me. And I have tried to like Superman. I want to connect with him. I want to “get it.” I eagerly jumped on the New-52 title when Romita Jr. started illustrating it. I couldn’t stay with it for more than six issues… I’ve tried some old (bronze era) stuff, but as we all know, some of the older titles aren’t written well. The only Superman book that ever scratched that itch for me was All-Star Superman. He was flawed! He wasn’t Mr. Perfect-God-alien-save-the-world-guy! This seven issue mini-series reminds me of that Superman and I love it.
In this series each issue is illustrated by a different person. Normally something I don’t really enjoy, but for this series it works really well. Each issue re-imagines a major event in Clark Kent’s life. The first issue is about baby Kal-El coming to Kansas, getting an “American” name and becoming a toddler who can fly (sort of). The second issue is a young Clark learning what incredible powers he possesses and how to use them all while trying in stay in control of his emotions in a very serious situation. Issue three touches on Clark becoming a young man and falling in love (albeit fleeting) while letting loose and pretending to be Bruce Wayne. It’s in this issue where Clark runs into the first super villain of the series and it ends in hilarious fashion.
I really enjoy how this series focuses more on Clark and how he deals with things than with Superman. Everyone already knows the origin story of Kal-El, but this mini-series is something different. Clark is flawed, naïve and still completely over-powered. Every issue is better than the last and I can’t wait to see where this it goes. Above all this mini is allowing me to finally “get it.” I feel as though I understand Kal-El, Clark Kent and Superman from a different, more human perspective. If you’ve ever felt the type of disconnect with the character that I have, I would highly recommend picking up the American Alien series. After three issues, I can definitely see a collected volume sitting on my shelf right next to All-Star in my future. It’s that good.