Writer: Max Landis
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Very few things in comics are as familiar as the Superman origin. Today, we have countless stories about how the greatest superhero ever grew up, from comic books, to movies, to shows Smallville, we’ve seen it all. Despite all of this, some creators manage to bring something new to Clark’s origin without deviating too far from what we already know. Superman: American Alien is that new story, and writer Max Landis brings something new to the Man of Steel that we’ve never seen before.
Landis’ seven-issue series isn’t exactly one story. Superman: American Alien is seven stages of Clark’s life, with each issue highlighting a different age and tone. Life is made up of many small, almost insignificant moments, and Landis hopes to capture that in this series. The first issue focuses on Clark as a child, but instead of focusing on the secrecy of his life that we are used, we instead get to take a look at Clark learning how to fly.
Clark’s education takes up the entire issue, but never feels dull. An incredible amount of emotion is present throughout the issue, ranging from complete fear to the most beautiful form of joy you can find in comics. Landis’ story is incredibly heartwarming due to a look not only at Clark, but at the Kent family as well, as they cope with Clark’s developments and opposite ways. We also get to see a brief look at Clark’s relationships as he spends a night out with his friends. One of the most refreshing elements of Landis’ story is that the discovery of Clark’s powers isn’t cloaked in fear. Landis manages to successfully convey the fear that weighs heavily on the Kent family’s mind without overwhelming the reader with negative emotions. The joy of a child discovering something so powerful takes over any other emotion, and makes this wonderful to read from beginning to end.
Nick Dragotta is an incredible complement to Landis’ first issue, with a style that paints Smallville as bright, beautiful, and lighthearted. The characters have a great amount of expression throughout the issue, with panels that tell stories and create emotion without the use of words. Dragotta’s art allows the reader to step into the mind of Jon Kent, who seems distant from his son, but still not allowing his fear to prevent him from loving and supporting his child. Alex Guimarães’ colors paint Smallville with bright colors full of beauty.