In Review: Superman: American Alien #3

A super story, with equally superb art. Recommended.

The covers: A pair to acquire as you follow the exploits of young Clark Kent. The Main cover by Ryan Sook is phenomenal. It features Clark in a fashionably distasteful Hawaiian shirt, sporting some sunglasses, with his arms wrapped around two gorgeous girls in bikinis, on a party yacht swamped with the rich and beautiful. In the distance an island can be seen on a calm ocean, though the wake of the boat has left a familiar design in the water that fans of Bob Kane’s iconic character will recognize. This picture is fun, beautiful, and spectacularly teases what this issue’s all about without revealing anything. This is a perfect cover. The Variant cover is by internal artist and colorist, Joelle Jones and Rico Renzi, and it’ll make readers think they’ve picked up a Zenescope comic accidentally. It features an attractive woman drinking a cocktail on said luxury boat, her face obscured by her imbibing. She’s tan and wearing an almost-neon bikini. On her left side, just above her bikini bottom is the Superman logo. It’s a slick idea for a cover carried out superbly by this pair. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A

The story: Max Landis’s “Parrot” opens in dramatic style with as the charter plane that Clark is on goes down in the Caribbean. As his plane plummets he remembers things said to him by his parents and Pete Ross. Once in the water, he grabs the pilot and swims to the surface, where he’s surprised to find that he’s capable of drowning. A huge yacht comes by and he and the pilot ascend a ladder. Once on the deck, Clark is stunned to find hundreds of beautiful tan young adults toasting him with “Happy Birthday!” Oliver Queen appear and tells Bruce (Wayne) he was afraid he wouldn’t attend the birthday party everyone is throwing for him. Clark tries to tell people he’s not Bruce, but is accosted by well wishers, congratulations for making it to twenty-one, and a few people who will become infamous. He’s soon whisked away by an individual who knows he’s not Bruce, telling him the “moths” at this party would “believe a parrot was Bruce Wayne if it had the right haircut.” What follows are Clark’s choices on this boat. Some are funny, some serious, and some surprising, especially on Page 13! A famous villain appears in this issue, with results that shouldn’t be too surprising. The final page has a pair of additional DC favorites appear, with a tease of a future meeting. This had action, laughs, and some really strong character moments. This was what I had hoped this series would be. Overall grade: A+

The art: Someone at DC should get Joelle Jones signed to a title immediately! The artwork on this book is sensational. The opening panel throws the reader into the perfect frame of mind as Clark’s plane began its fall. The memories that cut into the crash utilized straight lines to make them seem as “normal” moments, which brilliantly opposed the diagonal lines representing the plummeting plane. Clark’s reaction on the deck is laugh out loud funny — I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the Kryptonian so surprised. The characters that populate the boat look as though Beverly Hills High School threw up — everyone is a pristine physical specimen. I really like Jones’s page layout; for example, Page 6 has twelve panels, but they’re in several shapes and sizes perfectly matched for the required image and the text — there’s never a misstep in Jones’s layout. Jones also captures the emotion on the characters wonderfully: look at how Clark flirts with a new friend, and that individual responds in kind. Without the text, anyone could tell that these two are falling for one another. The full page splash devoted to the villain’s appearance is as strong as if the character had appeared in his own book. What’s not expected are the actions that follow, and as with the emotions, the art is so strong the text serves to increase the mood. Jones is someone whose work I must see more of in other books! Overall grade: A+

The colors: Everything is brighter under the sun in this book colored exceptionally well by Rico Renzi. The blast of colors put into the opening disaster increases the tension significantly in Jones’s art. The bright red shirt that Clark wears makes him an instant source of focus every time he appears. The tan bodies of the party guests also put focus on Smallville, whose skin is much more pale than theirs. The skies are gorgeous in blue, allowing the characters to pop out against it. The highlight of Renzi’s work on the book is unquestionably found on Pages 9 – 12: they are a marvelous match for the art and make the moment so much more magical. Overall grade: A+

The letters: John Workman provides a vacation pamphlet, yells, dialogue, story title, story credits, singing, sounds, and next issue’s tease. I’ve been a fan of Workman’s skills for years and he continues to make every contribution of his fantastic. It’s impossible not to love the sounds in this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A super story, with equally superb art. Recommended. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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