A few months ago I had taken a look at the first issue of Mark Russel, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, and Dave Sharpe’s Superman: Space Age and remarked on the incredibly hopeful tone it established in how it approached this version of Superman and their world. Does that continue into the rest of the series? Well, to an extent. There is still that persistent theme of Pa Kent’s words of doing something quick versus doing something right reverberating through the panels, but the world is much more complicated than conventional wisdom. But then this is where the series shines.
Superman: Space Age is the story of one of the universes in which Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League exist. But it one that’s doomed from the beginning as Pariah, a herald of the Anti-Monitor and the destruction it will inevitably bring, tries to tell everyone of their destined death. But he’s brushed off by the world at large as it’s still decades until the Crisis that trims the multiverse down. In the interim, Superman does what he can to save the world from threats large and small before his own crisis compels him to give up his seat on the Justice League to instead work on something more medical to help the planet. But, as all prophecies must come to pass in comics, his effort is for naught as the inevitable march of the Anti-Monitor erases his universe. Despite everything, when he tried to save the world quickly by inoculating the planet against any disease, he was still able to save the world the right way by bringing it into another universe.
All three issues of Superman: Space Age deal with different eras. The first diving into the weirdness and simplicity of the silver age; the second looks at the more disorderly bronze age and the more grounded feel of its universes; and the third book takes place in the 80s, when comics were coming into much more mature themes and this series reflects that. But at no point in all of it does it try to match the aesthetics of those eras—it is placed firmly in those 60s styled costumes and color palette. It’s bright and loud at all times, despite dealing with urban renewal schemes, government corruption, and the inevitable end of the universe. It helps to create this juxtaposition of these technicolor characters and how they interact with a world that continually changes around them—how they react and how, in some cases, fail to change as a result.
What ends up making Superman: Space Age so compelling is how it treats comic nostalgia and canon. We have the same characters that we’ve always seen in DC in a world that’s familiar enough, but it gives us more. It grounds us without falling into the gritty trappings of 90s’ “realism” while holding onto the hope of something better always being an option. It’s celebration and modernization devoid of cynicism. And if there’s any way to explore the past with these characters, that’s the only way that feels like a rebellion against the void others fall into.
Get excited. Get hopeful.
Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.
Leave a Reply