Written by Max Landis
Art by Francis Manapul
Clark Kent is trying to find his sense of purpose in life. He knows he’s not like everyone else, though he wishes he was, so how does he use his abilities to help others? In Superman: American Alien #5, Clark searches for these answers.
Max Landis has done an excellent job showing us the moments in Clark’s life that will lead him to be the Man of Steel we know and love. We’ve gotten a couple of issues about his family and another about his teenager years with his first girlfriend. That experience would show Clark the bigger world outside of Kansas. In our last issue, we saw Clark at his first job in Metropolis at the Daily Planet. At the end of that issue he has a tussle with Batman after the Dark Knight questions his motives. After that interaction, Clark realizes he could be doing more with his gift and he sets off to be a hero.
Illustrated beautifully by Francis Manapul we have Clark, in a unique mix of a cape and S.W.A.T. gear, stopping petty crimes across Metropolis. Manapul’s art throughout this section are some of my favorite of the series. We have one image of Clark stopping to eat his lunch on a roof; the panel itself could be a painting on your wall with its beautiful colors and composition. This scene shows how much Landis understands what makes Superman so great. In this panel, Clark apologizes when a worker finds him on the roof so he asks for permission to be up there. He’s a GOD asking permission from a human worker to sit on a building. Not only does Clark get permission, he then asks the worker if he wants to split his lunch with him. We are shown that Clark cares for others because it’s his nature, not because he has to. He still acts like a farm boy from Kansas.
Manapul’s great work in this issue continues in the next few scenes. He plays with perspective a few times; in one panel he has the S.W.A.T. leader in front of Superman, S.W.A.T. members, and other first responders. In this moment, Clark only wants to help out as much as he can. He respects the S.W.A.T. leader enough to let him lead and not get in the way. In the next scene, we get some great panel layouts from Manapul as Parasite is thrown into the water. It’s something not every artist can do well but Manapul’s art has a kinetic energy that is great in action scenes. Finally at the end we get a great splash page, which just might be the greatest page in this series so far.
This issue was not without it’s flaws, however. Luthor’s dialogue felt a bit on the nose and very off character. It felt like a different character than we had met in the last issue, as that character would have been more subtle with his insults (he just plainly calls Clark an idiot in one panel). It’s almost if he become more immature than his younger self we had previously met. Also, the action scene with Parasite felt a bit short and anticlimactic.
Though not a perfect issue in this series, Max Landis is continuing to create a great Superman story for our generation. Each issue continues to be a showcase of great artists that are elevating the already great work from Landis. Landis knows what makes Superman such a great character and this story is something Superman fans, or critics, really need to be reading.
Marvin’s rating – 9/10