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Tom King Saves Me From a Super Slump (Superman: Up In The Sky Review)


Writer: Tom King

Penciler: Andy Kubert

Inker: Sandra Hope

Colorist: Brad Anderson

Letterer: Clayton Cowels

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 8/10 Pulitzer Prizes

Another week, another new comic book day to pick up my weekly reads and follow along with my favorite heroes on their adventures. One book, in particular, I was looking forward to was SUPERMAN: UP IN THE SKY by Tom King. The series was featured in the Superman Giant, being sold only at Walmart but I never got around to reading them as they came. Not just because the few times I’ve entered my city’s Walmart to dig under and a pile of collecting cards and other items reminding me of my childhood to find one bent and crumpled copy, but other reasons. I’m a local business supporter. “Keep the money in the bucket” kind of guy. I learned this at a young age even though I didn’t understand it entirely as business after business closed down in my hometown from the Walmart that moved there. I have a local comic shop now that I am very fortunate to have. I should say though that I am glad that Walmart is selling comics in some form. Not every person has a local shop to get their books at, and pricing isn’t bad for the number of stories a new reader or fan can get from the GIant books. Time has passed and DC has decided to send some of those stories to shops now and I’ve been eager to see what I’ve been missing.

The Bendis Comics Universe

In recent years I have become a big fan of the “Boy in Blue.” I started reading his Rebirth run in both Superman as well as Action Comics and fell in love immediately. I've gone back to collecting all of the New 52 stories, "The Death of Superman" and many others, enjoying the hope and inspiration Superman creates. Metropolis and the Man of Tomorrow never seemed brighter to me but now I feel I’ve become lost in a haze and can’t see Superman the same way. WIth Brian Bendis coming on board to DC I was excited. This guy wrote some of all time favorite Marvel stories. AvX, Uncanny X-Men, Secret Invasion, Defenders, INFAMOUS IRON MAN! I could go on but the point is I liked this guy’s work a lot. When I heard he was taking on Action Comics and Superman I was pretty stoked and reading his lead up to his new runs in Man of Steel was good. But then the fog rolled in for me.

Revealing a major change to the origin of Krypton in Man of Steel was a crazy moment. Nothing to feel upset over for me as I saw it as an interesting chance to explore and break new ground for the Kryptonian mythology without changing much. It was tacking on a little extra and I was excited to see them reveal more. The first issue of Bendis’ run on Superman started out leaving me excited with its advertising. “The fallout from the MAN OF STELL miniseries has Clark Kent looking at the world through new eyes... with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth.” How awesome does that sound? This symbol of Hope that already does so much for the world is going to push that to new boundaries. What is that even going to look like? So far it feels like it has narrowed.

Super Questions

Lois and Clark to me went from a Top Number Best Parents list to Most Questionable. They let their son go off into space with a man they barely knew and was kind of evil a while ago. Lois left with them but decided she would come home and not tell Clark, but instead, went into hiding. Clark finally finds Lois and confronts her only to be told they can’t have a normal marriage and need to be apart but together. I still don’t understand the rationale for this other than to create celebrity gossip. From the outside, their marriage looks over to everyone else as well as they believe Lois is cheating on Clark with Superman. She wanted space to work but still sees Clark all the time, just not living together. I have become a big fan of continuity when a universe is formed but I find myself confused as how to justify the 180 from their time together in Rebirth.

I feel like the biggest thing missing for me is hope. We are 12 issues in now on both runs and it doesn’t seem to be there. Between ACTION COMICS setting up Bendis’ EVENT LEVIATHAN and SUPERMAN spending the last couple of issues explaining why Superman’s son went from 10 to 17, not a whole lot has happened for being so far in. For the most part, Superman now feels to me like a Netflix/CW take on the character. It’s more of a dude that has the powers of Superman and less of what the character and the series embodied. Is it there and I’m just not seeing it?

Get to it!

Wow. I was definitely not faster than a speeding bullet when it came to getting to what this review was about. SUPERMAN: UP IN THE SKY was absolutely needed from the Man of Steel right now. A murder takes place in Gotham and Batman asks Superman to help search for a girl who went missing at the scene. Superman struggles to allow himself to leave earth without his protection as we see page after page of him stopping some villain or disaster befalling the all the people he’s sworn to look after. It’s such a good reminder of how much Superman does and how he tries to be everywhere at once.

After talking with his colleagues and the unfortunate passing of the sister of the missing girl, Superman decides to head off into space.  This was such a good moment and a reminder of what Superman is all about. Despite other heroes like the Green Lantern Corps who are out there in space looking into the situation, that’s someone who looks up to Superman and believes in him to save them. He can’t give up on anyone who needs him and makes it his responsibility to help.

While in space Superman makes his way to the planet Rann to investigate how the culprit got away by using some bootleg teleportation technology from the inhabitants here. The Raanians only way to track them is to use a method they use on robots as it would drive any living being insane. Superman takes the risk and experiences some pretty intense stuff that shakes his beliefs at being a hero. Just when things are looking their worst though he has a moment with a vision of the girl who reminds him that he could give up if he wanted but he chooses not to as someone out their will always need him.

Hope Restored

Tom King did a phenomenal job with the character and this first issue to me. Tom King to me has been a writer that can really break down the human beneath the mask (or behind the glasses in Clark’s case). The writing does such an amazing job with the emotional toll the role of Superman has on Clark at times. As I’m reading I feel as if I’m going to be crushed by the weight of the world Clark feels and things are impossible. That’s where Tom does it, brings the spark back. No matter the circumstances Superman reminds himself and the readers there is hope and he continues to push himself for others. Tom has done some really human, dark and emotional stories as well as things out of this world (4th world). BATMAN, HEROES IN CRISIS, VISION, MISTER MIRACLE. All amazing stuff but what I’m super glad about is that Tom was able to put his personal touch on this character without taking away the core traits about Superman. Inspiration and Hope.

The art in this book is not to go underappreciated as well. Bright skies and colors lend to the tone of despite how dark things may get in Superman’s world he will never give up. Andy Kubert puts great detail into Superman and Clark almost as if they were two different people. Clark’s eyes display so much concern and caringness to others while Superman has quite of few panels that show his eyes intensely. He is focused and determined when he wears the S. This book has so many panels that make me think of what a classic Superman comic would be. From him fighting monsters to saving the day, to even just flying up in the clouds it’s such a classic heroic image. Superman has quickly become one of my favorites for so many reasons I could talk about for hours. Right now I am struggling to find that sense of hope and inspiration in the current works by Bendis so if there is

something I missed I would love to hear your thoughts on the series. If you aren’t finding what you are looking for there either or just love Superman, in general, I would recommend getting on this series though, as it sure to continue being a super one.

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