Writer- Max Landis
Artist- Joelle Jones
If you have ever seen one of screenwriter Max Landis’ popular videos breaking down how he would write stories for comic characters, you know this is a guy with a big imagination and a love for superheroes, DC Comics in particular. Besides the occasional spoken spec script, Landis is best known as screenwriter of the recent found footage superpowers film Chronicle. Recently, the powers that be at DC decided to let Landis drive one of the company cars, and gave him the keys to the Porsche; Superman. How would the man with so many ideas bouncing around his head fare at his first real shot at writing comics?
The answer has been shaky so far. American Alien has been built on the idea that each issue takes place at a different point in Clark Kent’s life, as he grows into becoming the hero we all know. Issue 3 finds a young adult Clark winning a trip to the Bahamas and surviving the ensuing crash when his plane goes down in the ocean. The surprise is not in his making it through such an ordeal alive, but that Bruce Wayne owns the yacht that rescues him, sailing the seas with society’s elite, celebrating Wayne’s birthday. The ongoing joke is that the young partygoers mistakes Clark for Bruce, because the reclusive prodigal son of Gotham never shows up for his own birthday parties. Clark parties hard, has a tryst with a future DC villainess, and fights off another DC villain looking to assassinate him, and by him, I mean Bruce. In the end, Clark finds the solace he hoped the vacation would provide him after his breakup with Lana Lang, and gets noticed by the actual Dark Knight in training for the first time, setting up many encounters to come.
Landis handles the story fairly well, but jams too many DC characters into the script. Clark ending up on Bruce’s boat is important to the plot, but adding in the previously mentioned villainous characters feels like fan service. There is a nicely written character moment for Clark where he compares the cost of the caviar being eaten nonchalantly by people at the party to the amount of good it could do for a girl he knew in Smallville that couldn’t afford much needed surgeries. Clark also has some good dialogue sharing his longing to see places other than the flat landscape that Kansas offers. Joelle Jones’ art is decent, if not a bit reminiscent in style to many late nineties books. Rico Renzi’s coloring choices sink the visuals of this book for me as everything seems to be drenched in day glo colors, from pink skies to purple oceans. Superman books shouldn’t be as dark aesthetically as a Batman book, but this is a bit much in areas.
Landis has filled three full issues so far with only a few memorable moments, not enough to warrant granting him seven issues in total unless the remaining books are well above the standard we have seen so far. The art team has been different for each issue, and this was in my opinion the weakest in that department thus far. I’ll keep reading this series, but only in hopes that it gets better before the final issue. Landis has shown the capacity for big ideas in the Superman department in his videos, it’s time to capture that magic in the remainder of American Alien.
2 Sard Bokens of 5