Superman: American Alien
by Max Landis and various artists
I've seen this on a number of suggested reading lists, and it sounded interesting, so I gave this compilation of the mini-series a try. It's a wonderful story re-imagining Superman's origin story, with the focus on key points in Clark Kent's life as he discovers his powers at a young age and slowly grows into becoming Superman. In this version, he doesn't know he's from a planet called Krypton, and his friends and at least some of the people in Smallville, most notably, the sheriff, know he's super-powered. As a teenager, he encounters Oliver Queen when he's mistaken for the almost never seen, rich playboy Bruce Wayne. As a journalism student/Daily Planet intern, he meets Lois Lane and gets to interview both Lex Luthor and a young Dick Grayson, new ward of Bruce Wayne. And during it all, he comes to terms with his abilities. It feels like a smaller, more personal story than Busiek's "Secret Identity." That story also hit on key points of Clark's life, but more clearly had a larger story in mind, as Clark had to grapple with trying to keep his privacy in a world that sought to understand and control him. That story also benefited from one artist handling each chapter. While I liked all the art in this one, the change of artist from chapter to chapter -- or issue to issue -- is jarring, and disruptive to the narrative flow. At times, it didn't seem to be one long story, but more a series of vignettes, which is fine, but a bit less than it could have been.
I really enjoyed this, but I don't think it quite lives up to hype. This Clark seemed to not be as serious, as earnest, as dedicated as the Clark I know and love and during so much of the story, I didn't feel as if I really knew him. His journey to maturity is worth reading, but I'll admit I was hoping for something a bit more.