Superman: Up in the Sky #1
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope
Reviewed by: Joe Bones
Genre: Comic / Superhero
Superman: Up In The Sky is a very interesting comic book in and of itself. It was originally published in a collection of Wal-Mart exclusive books called Superman Giant. These exclusive books were each a one-hundred page volume featuring part of a new Superman story and a collection of stories from the Man of Steel’s long history. In July, DC began printing the original story as a six part mini-series.
The story that begins in Up In The Sky #1 centers around the question, “How much is one life worth compared to millions?” The story opens with a rarely seen interaction, namely, Batman asking Superman for help. The home of an elderly couple who fosters four little girls has been broken into. The parents and two of the children have been murdered. The third daughter has been injured and lies in a hospital bed. The fourth daughter has been kidnapped. Fully aware of the differences in their natures, Batman asks Superman to talk to the hospitalized daughter to try and gather details on the kidnapping. Their conversation ends with the following exchange:
Superman: “Where did the kidnapper take your sister?”
Little Girl: “Up. In the sky.”
After speaking with the little girl, Superman resolves to find her missing sister. This is where the comic’s central question comes into play. Can Superman really afford to focus on leaving the planet to save one life when he is so often needed on Earth? In this mini-series author Tom King will take us on an intergalactic journey to find out the answer to that question.
King has written Superman before, but on a smaller scale. He penned one of the short tales that made up Action Comics #1000. Superman, in the guise of his alter ego Clark Kent, and his wife Lois Lane have also been featured in a few arcs in King’s run on Batman. Up In The Sky is King’s first chance to tell a longer story featuring the Man of Steel, and he truly does the character justice. How the value of a single life compares to the value of many lives is an age old question, and one that normally wouldn’t make for a very compelling Superman story. Yet King takes a thoughtful approach to this question and expertly uses Superman to explore the answer.
One of my biggest complaints about Superman is that in our modern age he just isn’t relatable. An indestructible God-like being with an unshakable moral compass isn’t as compelling as it was when the character was first created over eighty years ago. King does a tremendous job of making the character interesting by showcasing Superman’s humanity. For much of this first issue Superman is consumed with doubt and we watch him agonize over whether or not to leave Metropolis and track down the kidnapped girl. It is quite refreshing to see a nigh-unstoppable superhero physically tormented by doubt. Between heart-racing action sequences and heart-wrenching moments, King really hits all the notes and delivers an all around balanced opening to this mini-series.
Kubert and Hope’s art in this first issue is very well done and features many unique and dynamic layouts. My favorite part about the art in this issue is that is was originally drawn for “book paper” and not “comic book” paper. Because of this, the line work isn’t as hyper-defined and the colors are softer. These touches add a realistic touch to the art that compliments the emotional moments in the story while not detracting from the action sequences.
Up In The Sky’s central question is an iteration of a common theme in Superman comics. That theme being, “Can even Superman save everyone?” Normally, considering Superman is a symbol of hope, the answer is “Yes, he can.” Cue happy ending. Considering King’s style of story telling though, I doubt the answer presented by this mini-series will be anywhere near as straight forward.