I’ve never been a big Superman fan, and Max Landis is very hit-or-miss for me, so I had no clue what to expect from Superman: American Alien issue #3. The truth is, I kind of liked it. More than I was expecting.
The story starts with Clark Kent on a plane that is rapidly going down somewhere over the ocean. Kent saves the pilot from drowning just as a luxury yacht is passing by. Once aboard the yacht, they stumble upon a party and Kent is mistaken for the guest of honor; Bruce Wayne. The story takes place over one hard partying night as Kent befriends and eventually beds a young woman named Minerva. What follows is a night of philosophy and stargazing, with a surprise appearance by Deathstroke.
I found the premise quite fun, and Landis’ execution was better than expected. The story is full of humor that mostly works, especially the scene with a very confused Deathstroke. It is a briskly paced story with the right balance of action and dialog, and though this version of Superman is very different than what I’m used to Landis writes him with an assured confidence and grasp of his character. Landis’ observation of the fakeness of the social elite was an interesting take, and added a new dimension to Bruce Wayne’s world.
The art by Joelle Jones took me a few pages to get used to, but I dig her style. It is more over the top exaggerated than what I expect from a Superman comic, but it benefitted the story greatly. The cartoony nature of the art perfectly captured the craziness of a night of partying. The colors by Rico Renzi while not being bad were just passable; mostly flat and emotionless with no real deviation.
The one-page back-up story featuring everyone’s favorite 5th dimensional imp was the best thing about this issue though. Full of observational humor and a matter-of-fact sensibility, with great art by Mark Buckingham and Jose Villarrubia as expected, The Real Question was the star of the show.
Overall I quite enjoyed this issue. Max Landis and crew are telling very different stories of a Superman that is more grounded than I’m used to with plenty of humor and philosophy to break up the action. It wasn’t perfect, but that fits the tone of the story. This is Superman at his most human, and I think I like this man of the people more than the Man of Steel.