Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Superman: True Brit
Take a book written by a Monty Python historian in the form of Kim "Howard" Johnson and co-written by former member of Monty Python's Flying Circus in the form of John Cleese and add artwork in the form of the legendary Johnny Byrne to the mix and you have probably one of the best Superman stories I have read in a very long time!!
Being a die hard and life long fan of Flying Circus, I haven't a clue why it has taken me so long to find and read this book. But I finally discovered it on a trip to my local library. So I decided to pick it up and give it a try. I'm very happy I did.
Set in DC Comics Elseworld Universe, we see young Kal-EL landing in Weston-super-Mare England instead of Smallville USA. He is found and raised as Colin Clark by a set of parents who look like they were based Ronnie Corbett as the father and Terry Jones as his mother. Unlike the Kents from Superman mythology the Clarks are not so happy to have a son that possesses powers far beyond that of mortal men.
After saving Ron Nasty and Dirk McQuickly of the famed Rutles (a creation of fellow former Monty Python alum Eric Idle) Colin adopts a secret identity and a garish costume to become Superman.
First and foremost for anyone reading this book: DO NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. It's not intended to be serious in the sense of some other Elseworld titles such as Gotham by Gaslight or The Nail series. This is a satirical look a Superman who has a difficult time battling the forces of evil in the form of the tabloid press. Even near the end of the book, having worked for a particularly oily rag creating lies as Colin Clark, Superman tries to get people to denounce the tabloid press to no avail.
Nothing comes easy for either Superman or his alter ego Colin Clark. His job, his attempts to fit in, or trying to impress Lois Lane's British counterpart Louisa Layne-Ferret. Who is a million times meaner and shallow than Lois Lane ever was in the early Superman comics.
Colin also meets his arch-nemesis. A supervillian whom he accidentally impaled with a cricket bat during a school match who has taken the identity of...
...wait for it...
The other thing I like about this book is Johnny Byrne's artwork. Although his style is completely recognizable, he has a slightly Wally Wood approach to the way he interprets Superman and company in this book. Being a fan of Wood's MAD Magazine work, I like this approach.
I would give this book a try. Although, it may not be the best piece of satire ever written, it's a very enjoyable read if taken at face value and not taken seriously. I think the problem nowadays we take everything way too seriously and just cannot enjoy a good laugh.