Up until last Fall, DC Comics had seemingly banished the fun and excitement from Superman and his world, never to be found again. The Man of Steel lost his father, his people, and his self confidence in successively depressing storylines that made him out to be largely ineffective as both a hero and a man. While Grant Morrison’s current Action Comics run has thankfully brought an attitude and personality that’s been missing in Superman stories back, that’s just one book, and why have one really good Superman comic when you can have two? Creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani recently finished their acclaimed run on the all ages series Tiny Titans, but they didn’t wait long to launch Superman Family Adventures, a celebration of…well, it’s in the title of the comic. In the series’ first issue, Superman, his cousins Superboy and Supergirl, and their Superdog Krypto all teamed up to fight robots and to stop Lex Luthor’s latest insane plan to steal The Man of Steel’s Powers. Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen went on a coffee errand.
Superman Family Adventures #1 had all of the elements of a classic Superman story:
- The Metropolis Marvel and his team confidently fighting crime
- Lex Luthor wreaking havoc
- Perry White screaming at everyone
- Jimmy Olsen getting trampled on
- and Lois Lane being generally awesome.
The straightforward standalone story moved at a quick and energetic pace throughout, giving every cast member a moment to define themselves and get in some action. SFA #1 also did a great job embracing the over the top nature of Superman comics, and the superhero genre in general, from the shouty dialogue to the talking super powered pets that helped to thwart Luthor’s maniacal plan. Baltazar’s clean, bold, and expressive artwork really made the comic sing, with big action beats and big character emotions to sell the jokes. I also liked how Baltazar took elements from both the movies and the comics to give Lois, Clark and the other cast members their own distinct look for the comic. It was all very clever and silly, and that’s great because the last thing the industry needs is another book that takes itself too seriously.
Just as how Tiny Titans was a love letter to the DC Universe, this comic was a love letter to the classic elements of Superman lore, from the comics of today and yesterday, to the movies of the late 70′s and 80′s. Action, adventure, humor, and a dash of romance; this was Superman distilled to its purest essence, thankfully devoid of all the angst that had swallowed the mainstream Superman books the last four years. Baltazar and Franco recognized that writing the character isn’t a burden, but rather a great opportunity to show readers, young, old and in between that he and his world can be fun, upbeat, and timeless.