Review – Superman: American Alien #4 (DC Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Max Landis
Artist: Jae Lee
Release Date: 17th February, 2016

The latest issue of Max Landis’ SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN sees yet another shift in tone and style, with the artwork here being provided by the distinctive brush of Jae Lee.  The story sees a student Clark being given a trial assignment by the Daily Planet to cover the “Cerberus Summit”, a high-profile meeting between three of the most influential young businessmen in America.  You may have heard of them; Oliver Queen, Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne.

I’ve always been a fan of Lee’s distinctive visual style, and in that respect, this issue definitely delivers.  This is quintessential Lee, with slender, shadowy figures and truly inventive layout choices aplenty.  Additionally, while the bulk of the issue is essentially Clark conducting a series of interviews, Lee ensures that each exchange has a different aesthetic and a different feel to it, keeping the issue visually interesting throughout.

Landis helps immeasurably in this regard, displaying a firm, confident grasp of these characters and providing some truly powerful moments of dialogue along the way – particularly during the interview with Lex.  While some of the foreshadowing and wordplay is perhaps a little on the nose, Lex delivers an absolutely stunning monologue to the young, naïve Clark, providing an ominous insight into the future still to come.  Conversely, the exchange with Oliver Queen is far more laid back, fitting given their prior meeting in the previous issue, and the Wayne interview sees Bruce replaced by another familiar face, with scintillating results.

The final pages provide an utterly stunning confrontation, and while it’s definitely en vogue to have these particular characters butting heads right now, this exchange felt like so much more than merely another cynical marketing ploy.  Lee ups his game immeasurably during these moments too, displaying the finer points of each character – the strength, the shadow, the intensity – to absolute perfection.

SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN continues to provide a wonderfully unique look at the formative days of the Man of Steel, shifting both visual and narrative and styles with every new issue, making for a truly captivating read.  Personally speaking, the Superman character has always felt a little direct, a little ‘larger-than-life’ for my tastes, but these fleeting snapshots, delivered with emotion and humour, are going a long way towards changing my mind.   Landis is creating something truly special here, and the addition of Lee for this particular chapter is simply the cherry on an already mouth-watering sundae.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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