Superman Red & Blue #1 (Review)
Written by: Brandon Easton, Marguerite Bennett, Dan Watters, Wes Craig, John Ridley
Art by: Clayton Henry, Steve Lieber, Jill Thompson, Wes Craig, Dani
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire, Jill Thompson, Ron Chan, Wes Craig, Dani
Lettered by: Deron Bennett, Clayton Cowles, Dave Sharpe, Troy Peteri
Similar to Batman: Black and White, this is another anthology series of short stories by a variety of writers and artists that follows the man of steel. Anthology series can be hit or miss given the short page count to get a fulfilling story across but this issue is resounding success with some stories panting Superman with a vulnerability not typically seen in previous Superman titles.
The first story by John Ridley kicks things off perfectly with a story centered around Clark returning to a place where he experienced a severely traumatic event and is clearly experiencing anxiety just on the flight there. Normally when a writer portrays Superman as a vulnerable character, a villain removes his powers or uses kryptonite and it's presented as more of a frustration than a real traumatic event. Here Ridley presents it more with an emphasis on emotional and mental trauma with Clark even being triggered by having to sit in front of Koslov and having thoughts of getting revenge that really portray Clark as a person. There also isn't a quick fix or resolution at the end of the story, it's presented more as something Clark just has to live with and overcome.
The third story by Wes Craig is also a standout that while more conventional than the previous stories, doesn't rely on the usual trope of Superman being an inspiration, instead a young boy sees a kindred spirit and shows how even someone small can accomplish a lot with the right amount of determination.
The art across the board is fantastic, using the limited color palette exceptionally well to showcase the appropriate elements in each story. Ridley, Henry, and Bellaire's story in particular uses the two colors extremely well to punctuate the good as bllue, that bad red or the red of violence.
I didn't come in with any expectations and was thoroughly impressed with what is currently my favorite issue of the year. Hopefully the quality stays consistent because this was one hell of way to start this anthology series off.