Review – Superman: Space Age #1 – A Modern Masterpiece

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Superman: Space Age #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Superman: Space Age #1 – Mark Russell, Writer; Mike Allred, Artist; Laura Allred, Colorist

Ray – 10/10

Ray: Kingdom Come. Marvels. The New Frontier. Superman Smashes the Klan. There have only been a few out-of-continuity superhero stories that truly stand as the all-time elites, the ones that take the serial heroes that dominate the DC and Marvel Universe and elevate them into something truly timeless that stands alone as a perfect representation of the characters. If this first issue—and calling it an issue kind of barely scratches the surface—of Superman: Space Age is any indication, we’re about to have another enter the conversation. Mark Russell and Mike Allred’s 80-page volume takes Superman and puts him in an alternate reality where he operates from the 1960s to the 1980s—and his career is defined by the world-defining events of the era. It seems inspired by some of Russell’s other work, like his recent Fantastic Four: Life Story, but unlike that one it’s perfect in every way.

Reflections on the end. Via DC Comics.

Starting with a prequel that shows Superman, Lois, and a young Jon Kent seemingly greeting the end of the world, it flashes back to 1963 when Superman is still on the farm, Lois is a cub reporter interviewing eccentrics about their cats, and an assassin’s bullet in Dallas just changed the world. This is a world with a more grounded take on Superheroes—Superman’s first flight nearly triggers the Soviet nuclear alerts, Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor are involved in a pitched battle for a military contract, and Hal Jordan is a test pilot who gets an up-close alien encounter. It weaves in so many events, including the civil rights era as Lois gets involved with the Freedom Riders, that it’s amazing how well it works—and how much it still feels grounded in a coming-of-age story for Superman, as he grapples with his destiny. Two flashbacks to WW2 for both Jonathan Kent and Sam Lane are particularly powerful.

Over the first issue, we see Lex Luthor go from being an ambitious businessman to being one of the most incredibly evil versions of the character we’ve ever seen, we see Bruce Wayne go from being an arrogant tech baron with a decent core to a hero with a key role in saving the world, and Hal Jordan go from being a straight-laced military man to discovering a larger purpose. We see some of the most genuine, sweet romantic scenes between Clark and Lois in a while. This is a note-perfect Lois, equal parts kindness and fire. More than anything, though, this is a story about how Superman tries to change the world for the better—even when it seems impossible. The inclusion of a certain villain seems to indicate it could tie into a current event, but I have a feeling it was just a coincidence—because I think this has been in the works for a very long time. This feels like a genuine magnum opus for everyone involved, and possibly one of the best Superman stories of all time.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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