Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. So right now, DC is in the middle of releasing some comics based on the recent Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated film, and this week they’ve released the first of their series based on Superman.
So what the heck is Gods and Monsters you ask? Good question. It’s a recently released animated film (with additional short segments released on youtube) that takes a look at DC Universe that is very different from the one we know of. It’s a world that’s, frankly, much darker than what you might expect, which is prevalent no more obviously than in this Superman tale.
The film and the comics feature the art style pioneered by Bruce Timm that will be familiar to anyone who’s watched the Batman animated series from the early 90s, or the Justice League cartoon from the early 2000s, or really any DC animated feature in the last decade. This strikes an interesting juxtaposition with the content, and it’s a contrast that both satisfied my desires for nostalgia and adult content.
When I say adult content, though, I mean that in a complimentary way, as this is a comic that deals with mature subject matter, without simply throwing a “dark and gritty” lens on everything, or shoving unnecessary blood and gore for shock value. It’s a rewriting of Superman’s origin that is actually far more interesting than his canon origin, and his typical “good ‘ol American boy” routine.
In this universe, Superman lands not in America, but in Mexico, where he is found and raised by a family who eventually moves to America and works as a migrant worker. There’s a lot of tough political issues there, all of which rightly affect this version of Superman, who must deal with an America that doesn’t represent the golden standard in his mind.
This is a Superman that is afflicted with a lot of contesting views and drives, and it’s interesting to actually see a conflicted Superman, one who’s not so steadfast in his beliefs of what is “right” and what is “wrong,” and how, occasionally, makes the wrong choices and actually comes across as a bit of an asshole.
Throughout this first issue, Superman struggles with when and to what extent to use his powers, especially after a couple key incidents early in his life where he clearly misuses them. Rather than making him a “reluctant hero,” though, this indecision makes him a more complex character – one who must decide, in any given situation, if using his powers is actually going to help those involved.
Overall, Justice League: Gods and Monsters – Superman is definitely an interesting direction to take the character, and he probably serves as the most interesting departure from the main series depiction. However, while I’m definitely interested to see where they go with him, I could also very easily see this turning into an idea that does not sustain itself over multiple issues, so if this does pique your interest, I would recommend it to you, but with caution.