Tag Archives: The Parasite

A Superman: American Alien #5 Review – The Wrong Cape!

Superman: American Alien #5, Ryan SookTITLE: Superman: American Alien #5
AUTHOR: Max Landis
PENCILLER: Francis Manapul. Cover by Ryan Sook.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 16, 2016

***Need a refresher? Head back to the beginning with Superman: American Alien #5.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s something about this issue that drives me absolutely nuts. We saw it on the final page of last issue, but it’s plastered all over this one. That’s a damn shame, because in almost every other respect this issue is damn good.

Now an intern at The Daily Planet, Clark Kent is still trying to find his place in the world. For six months, a mysterious “Flying Man” has been a super-powered good samaritan for Metropolis. As Clark’s fellow intern Lois Lane ponders the hero’s motivations, The Parasite makes his first appearance. Now, the Flying Man has no choice but to start communicating not only with the police, but with Lex Luthor…

I understand I may be hung up about this, but it drives me absolutely insane: Clark Kent is wearing Batman’s cape. I talked about this at length last time, but it bears repeating. To me, Superman and Batman have always represented two sides of the same coin. Light and darkness, hope and cynicism, etc. Superman drawing inspiration from Batman implies the latter has a certain wisdom and seniority the former doesn’t, which inherently positions the Dark Knight above the Man of Steel. As a fan, that offends me. Once again, we see Batman is far too central to so much in the DC Universe. It’s what I call “Over-Baturation.”

Superman: American Alien #5, title pageWhat’s more, it ruins a really charming costume. The black “S” shirt and jeans are reminiscent of Superboy’s old look. And the old school pilot headgear has a nice quirkiness to it. The outfit makes sense for a Superman who hasn’t found himself yet, and has simply thrown something together to start his mission. The dark colors also have a cool factor befitting a young adult trying to impress people.

Traditionally, The Parasite isn’t portrayed as a giant. But that’s how we see him in this issue. It suits Landis’ purposes well, and not surprisingly, Francis Manapul is really able to run with it. The explosive moments between Clark and Parasite are really well done, particularly the page when our hero simply grabs the giant by the foot and pulls him through the roof of a building. It’s a tribute to how well-rounded Manapul’s work is that he’s able to pull off both the action sequences, and the more intimate one-on-one scenes between Clark and Lois, with equal amount of finesse. And look at those colors. Wow.

Clark spends much of the issue with Lois Lane. But we also get our first meeting between Clark and Lex Luthor. Like Batman, Luthor is very much the yin to Superman’s yang, but obviously in a different way. So it’s fitting that as Clark is just starting out as a hero, he’s learning from both friends and enemies. We’re seeing portions of Superman’s philosophy and modus operandi molded before our eyes, and it’s true to the essence of the character.

Superman: American Alien #5, Francis ManapulThe exchanges between Clark and Lois are the strongest I’ve seen in awhile. Landis gives them a nice chemistry that has a certain modern vibe without coming off as obnoxious. I imagine that’s what a lot of fans are looking to Max Landis for. He’s made it clear he’s passionate about Superman, and he obviously has his share of ideas. Now he has an outlet for some of them, and at times they’ve been very refreshing.

Portions of American Alien have been extremely annoying. But I can’t deny it’s been a worthwhile read thus far. Landis’ heart is in the right place. I get the sense he understands Superman in a way that few writers do. In that sense, when you open one of these issues, the battle is already half won.

Image 1 from gamespot.com. Image 2 from author’s collection.

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A Mon-El, Vol. 2: Man of Valor Review – Time Slips Away

Superman: Mon El, Vol. 2 - Man of ValorTITLE: Superman: Mon El, Vol. 2 – Man of Valor
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLERS: Fernando Dagnino, Bernard Chang, Javier Pina. Cover by CAFU.
COLLECTS: Superman #693-697, Superman Annual #14, Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1, Adventure Comics #11
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This stuff with Mon El becoming the main character in Superman for about a year presented some really intriguing story opportunities. Unfortunately, the creators didn’t get quite enough time to flesh out some of the plot points, and make Mon El’s time in the spotlight mean as much as it could have.

Man of Valor picks up where Superman: Codename Patriot left off, with the terminally ill Mon El presumed dead. In actuality, he’s being held captive by General Sam Lane’s forces at Project 7743. In the issues that follow, Mon El does battle with Lane’s team, as well as the Parasite and Bizarro. Also, members of the Legion of Superheroes are on Earth, and they’re watching him very carefully…but why?

Superman #695, Mon El, BizarroAfter that, the book leaps forward past the events of Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, where Mon El’s time in present day Earth comes to an end, and we find out whether or not he overcomes his illness. In addition, James Robinson looks at the history of Mon El’s home planet of Daxam, as well as the character’s origin story.

The whole thing is…okay. Unfortunately Robinson didn’t have a decent amount of time to play around with the fact that, because Earth’s atmosphere is ultimately poisonous to him, Mon El is protecting the people of Earth at the expense of his own life. There were some lovely moments surrounding that issue in the first Mon El book, but it’s barely touched here. He also begins a relationship with Billie Harper, who’s kinda/sorta related to The Guardian (long story). We never get an effective wrap up to that plot thread. It just hangs there at the end. These are all things Robinson could have addressed had he been given more time on the book.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the Legion of Superheroes’ involvement in the story. Granted, Mon El IS a character from their time period, and they do play a key role in the end of the book. I’ve just never been a Legion fan, what can I say? And when it’s revealed that people that we thought were ordinary civilians that just happened to interact with Mon El were actually Legionnaires the entire time, it tarnishes the story.

Mon El, Parasite, BizarroI will say that Mon’s battles with Bizarro and Parasite were pretty cool. And it’s tough to pick a favorite between Fernando Dagnino, Bernard Chang and Javier Pina. They all do pretty good work here.

As interesting as it was to see the Superman book function without its title character for a year, it ultimately wasn’t as good as it could have been. It’s still a career moment for the Mon El character, but it could have been a lot better. What’s more, to fully understand what happens at the end of this book you not only have to read Codename Patriot, but Last Stand of New Krypton as well. So overall, Man of Valor is more expensive than it’s worth.

RATING: 6/10

Images from comicvine.com.

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