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Superman "Space Age"

A Review of the Graphic Novel by Mark Russell and Michael and Laura Allred (2022-23)

By Tom BakerPublished 28 days ago 3 min read
Superman considers the unfurling chaos of the "Space Age"

Superman: Space Age is a graphic novel collection of a limited series by Mark Russell and Michael Allred (Laura Allred was the colorist), which details the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" decade by decade, rebooting the Supersaga decade by decade, updating it from the Fifties forward.

The style is akin to pop art, clean and very visually easy on the eyes, almost as if the characterizations were repurposed for commercial advertising or educational material you might access at the doctor's office. The story of Space Age takes us through Vietnam and Watergate, and the way Superman, Batman, and Lois Lane are depicted all hearken back to the cinematic and television portrayals of them by their most famous actors: Margot Kidder, Cristopher Reeve, and Adam West. A plethora of other Justice League heroes are also featured here, including Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Aqua Man, etc. I wasn't aware when I began reading that this takes place on an alternate Earth. And that world is about to come to an end.

Superman comes off as a naive, milquetoast "goody-two-shoes", one who goes to a bar to drink milk, and one whose relationship with long-time (really long) comic saga gal pal and spunky girl reporter Lois Lane is both endearing and poignantly doomed. (She dies, along with the Supertot. Hey no one said comics always had to have a happy ending, okay?)

Contemplating the end of one world at his Fortress of Solitude

Lex Luthor, that bald, musclebound, ambiguously gay icon of hypersexual, psychopathic malignant narcissism, is selling weapons to the U.S. Government, right before he goes to prison for nuking a city. I'm not sure what Luthor is doing here, except to dance and provide the charismatic thrills he always delivers, because, on the whole, this isn't about him.

Superman, while drinking his ice-cold milk at his and Lois' favorite bar, comes across some celestial Cassandra with heavy gothic Halloween makeup around his eyes. This cosmic prophet warns him that the "Anti-Monitor" is running around devouring all the matter in every Universe, destroying worlds, and Earth is earmarked for his next meal. Brainiac decides HE wants to devour all of Earth's resources before Anti-Monitor gets the chance to.

Bruce Wayne funds a "Hall of Justice" for the newly formed Justice League, and Green Lantern and others form their special superclub that Bruce As Batman can't seem to find himself overly enamored of (Wonder Woman notwithstanding). A good portion of the book throws the Dudley Dooright morality of Clark Kent against the down-and-dirty, real-world vigilante anarchism of Bruce. Like an old married couple, once again, they're contrasted against each other, and, while both are aiming for the same ends, they are both seemingly using different routes to get there. Superman operates from the lessons of life taught to him by George Kent and his AI hologram father Jor-El. Bruce operates from a strong streak of personal vengeance, forever driven and forever dogmatically following the inner drive programmed into him by the brutal, vicious murder of his parents, so long ago.

The rest of Space Age moves toward an apocalyptic hurricane of events, a kind of Ragnarok for the superhero set. On the way, we're treated to a deeply morally conflicted Superman, who continually mulls over the morality of whose life to save, whose life to let go of, circumstances dictating such a choice. Batman has no such qualms, it seems; Batman exults, much more, in the bloody, violent upswing of his terminal war against CRIME.

Space Age takes us, age by age, through the evolution of a hero, a society, and a world, until its final bloody demise. But then, it's only ONE world in a "Crisis of Infinite Worlds." That concept alone is intriguing. The rest of the book is just gravy after that. It would be great even without Luthor. But, with him, it's the BOMB. No pun.

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About the Creator

Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis, Indiana Ghost Folklore, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales, and Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest.: http://tombakerbooks.weebly.com

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    Tom BakerWritten by Tom Baker

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