Superman Family Adventures #1 (July, 2012)
Writer & Artist – Art Baltazar
Writer – Franco
Editor – Kristy Quinn
Cover Price: $2.99
Hey, check it out… an “all ages” title. Now let me rub some liniment on my aching joints before I regale you with the fact that… ahem, back in my day… pretty much every mainstream superhero book was considered “all ages”. Now, I’m not saying anything that folks haven’t said, read, and heard a million times already… but it’s weird to consider how far the comics have drifted where “all ages” becomes a selling point or imprint.
I’m glad I grew up when I did… I gotta figure, if I were a tiny tot who went to the comic shop for the first time and was presented with this type of book… I’d feel a bit ripped off. I’d want to read the “real” Superman… or Batman, or whoever… not this kids-stuff! I have my theories that the market for this kind of book is more for folks my age… I think it allows us to view familiar properties through a simpler lens, and maybe even get a few chuckles in. I think kids… if they’re anything like I was back in the day… would want to read (if they were into comics at all) the main ongoing series’. We’ll talk about that more below.
For now, however… let’s see how the super-adorable Superman family take care of some pinchy-clawed robots!
We open as a meteorite enters the atmosphere… it’s heading directly toward Metropolis. Thankfully, the city’s protector is on the job… Superman, complete with New-52-esque v-neck handily catches the flaming stone, and then heat-visions it into tiny “harmless” pebbles. I dunno, Supes… I think a hail of pebbles to the streets of Metropolis might not be a good thing!
Back at the Planet, editor Perry White is looking for Clark Kent… who is in the middle of buttoning up his shirt and tightening his tie. The question is raised as to why Kent misses all the big action around town… to which Clark offers that maybe he misses out because he’s secretly Superman. Lucky for him, nobody’s buying what he’s currently selling.
Suddenly, giant robots strike… and Lois runs off for the story, Jimmy runs off for the photos, and Clark… well, Clark just runs off. Sadly for the Chief (who seems to be fine with people calling him that) Jimmy ran off before he could order him to fetch his coffee.
Shortly, Superman is hovering before three giant robots. Each has a letter on it’s “chest”… it reads E X L… which makes me figure they’re probably out of formation. The bots start chucking hardware in Superman’s direction, including a mailbox and car. Luckily the Superman Family hits the scene, in the form of Supergirl, Superboy, and Krypto the Super Dog.
During the fracas, Jimmy Olsen gets a bit too close to the action. Lucky for him, Supergirl is there to save his day… and his butt.
The L robot snags Superman with his pinchy claws and tentacle arm. Our hero notices that this bot’s got an “evil eye”. He swears somebody is looking back at him. Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now… prepare to have your world rocked… it’s Lex Luthor.
And he’s got a plan! He’s going to use his absorption ray to drain Superman’s powers into his classic Luthor Battle Suit. He also has a very well coifed pet mouse… more on that in a bit.
Elsewhere… and much more importantly, Jimmy Olsen receives a text from the Chief… he wants his coffee, and he wants it… ya know, soon. I feel your pain, Perry… I know what it’s like to want for a cuppa joe.
Back at Luthor’s lair, he is preparing to flip the switch on the absorption ray. He’s got Superman well in hand… er, claw. Unfortunately for Lex, just as he flips the switch… Krypto jumps in front of Superman! To make matters worse, Lex’s mouse gets caught up in the power-transfer!
Our result is… well, the mouse can fly (and talk!)… and Lex gets the urge to scratch behind his ears with his (hind) leg. Oops.
From this point, the rest of the Superman Family battle is pretty academic. The robots get destroyed… and Lois uses her detective skills to deduce that Lex Luthor is behind the days event.
And so, as if on cue… Lex arrives on the scene. Superman pops him out of his power armor with ease… then tricks him back into the absorption ray booth by playing a quick game of fetch. With a flip of a switch… Lex and Krypto return to “normal”. Everything’s back to normal!
Or is it? It would seem as though Lex’s pet mouse “Fuzzy” still has its powers… and so, we find ourselves with a brand-new Super-Pet!
We wrap up with Jimmy finally getting around to giving Perry White his cup of coffee… complete with dust, rubble, and robot debris! We out.
Now that was a lot of fun. I came into this thinking I was probably going to bag on this because I’m not the target audience… after reading it, I feel the opposite just might be true. I would argue that the aged comic fan might just be a sweet spot for a book like this. We might have a more attuned appreciation for a simple silly Superman story than a young’un would. We can see that these characters are acting as themselves… with the volume turned way up. There is a focus on specific traits for each supporting character, that we understand the context of… which makes the jokes land where they should.
I would maybe suggest that, outside the abso-freaking-lutely adorable art… that a kid might not be all that interested in the story. Granted, I am talking out my backside at the moment… I don’t have any children that I can test this theory on, but it’s just a feeling I have. While we (grown-children) can laugh at a blustery Perry White demanding Jimmy run through a war zone to bring him his coffee… a kid may just think Perry’s a jerk. Like I said, I think it’s the context that helps us (ya know, people too old to be discussing or analyzing a “kid’s comic” to this extreme) appreciate what this book truly brings.
For the story itself? It’s cute. Really not a whole lot to it… but we do get to see Superman face off with his arch-enemy, and there is an addition to the Superman Family Adventures lore in the adoption of a brand-new Super-Pet. I have a few more issues of this book floating around… I’ll have to keep my eye out to see if Super-Mouse makes any subsequent appearances. The characters all feel “right”… again, with their volumes turned up. Not a bad thing in the slightest… and dammit, as mentioned, they all look pretty great!
Before we go… and since I’m not sure when we’ll be discussing the “All Ages” deal again… I do want to bring up something kind of interesting (to me). Folks of my age, mid-to-late thirties-ish, we grew up during the waning years of the Comics Code Authority. Most every book we bought had that little beveled badge in the corner. It was an indication that the book was “safe” for readers… and we can define “safe” however we please, I guess.
Regular visitors to this humble blog know that often I’ll link to where a digital copy of whatever book we’re discussing can be found at the DC Digital shop. When I do, I generally make a mental note of how the books are rated. Seeing as though the Comics Code isn’t a thing anymore, the comics companies have had to rely on their “in house” ratings system… and that isn’t limited to new releases.
Let’s take, for example… Superman (vol.2) #22. This is the issue wherein Superman is forced to kill the Phantom Zone criminals. This was a Code-Approved book when it shipped in 1988, which to me says “appropriate for all ages”. Today however, via readdcentertainment, it is rated as “12+ Only”. Hardly an “all ages” book anymore, right? I dunno, maybe I’m thinking about it too hard… that doesn’t sound like me at all, right?
Anyhoo… despite my reservations on the “All Ages” classification, I think readers of… most-ages would dig this book. It is available digitally via DC Digital, where it is rated as “All Ages”, so no worries there. This is a subject that I’m finding more and more interesting the more I think about it. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on “All Ages Books” and “Then vs. Now Ratings”… I’m interested to hear what other people think!
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