Superman: American Alien #5 is a blast. Like each issue so far, this one feels like it’s over too soon. It deals Superman’s early days “on the job” with him mixing his internship at the Daily Planet with his “flying vigilante” activities. Unlike the Superman we know and love, he has donned a Batman-esque costume, with cape and goggles. Don’t expect armor of any kind, for Clark only wears a shirt and jeans. Clark generally seems to be having a good time flying around and saving people, but he wonders: Is it all worth it? Can he stand up to his enemies like he means to?
The best Superman stories acknowledge that being the most powerful man in the universe is harder than it looks. With this issue, I can safely say that American Alien is one of the best Superman stories. Writer Max Landis doesn’t settle with giving Clark an easy way out with his powers. Instead, he goes straight to his head and his heart. We witness how Clark’s good conscience can get the best of him despite his powers. Landis honors characters like Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, while also keeping them fresh. Clark gets a great rapport with Lois; she plays her smart, no-nonsense personality against his sweet naïveté. Meanwhile Luthor’s manipulative nature can even set the Man of Steel against himself. It’s almost heartbreaking to read.
And like the rest of the series so far, this issue is beautifully illustrated. The art by Francis Manapul offers some stunning panels. I am sure that in years to come, comic fans will want them framed and hung in their walls. Once this issue was over, I felt a tug in my heart. I wanted more. It’s sad to realize that this series will soon come to an end. I can’t wait to see what its final destination has in store for us.