Superman: Red & Blue #4 is here and as usual I have been eagerly awaiting a fresh delivery of unique and creatively free anthology stories about my favourite character. One of my favourite things about this series is the range of creatives coming together to showcase the famous traits of Superman.
But before we get into the issue and the stories themselves, let’s take a look at the covers. The standard cover is by John Romita Jr, with inks by Klaus Janson and colours by Alex Sinclair. It’s safe to say this is an absolute eye-catcher of a piece, though that is predominantly down to the colours and inks which really make the piece so striking. I particularly love the display of power at the points where Superman and Bizarro touch, and I really love the subtle differences between these two larger than life figures.
The first variant cover is by Walt Simonson and Laura Martin and I have to say it is my favourite from the bunch. Not only is this a fantastic rendition of Superman, with very similar shading and body compositions as John Romita Jr’s work shown above, but I adore the creativeness of it. I love how they have spelled out ‘Superman’ with the broken stone and rubble, it takes me straight back to 90’s comic books and hits me a huge wave of nostalgia.
The third and final variant cover is by Alexander Lozano and is another incredible piece! The realism is absolutely phenomenal here and I adore how the piece is predominantly blue and the only bits that are red is where the light shines onto Superman. This Superman is extremely muscular, clearly powerful yet has a soft composure on his face, I adore it.
Superman: Red & Blue #4 continue a very unique collection of stories focusing around Superman and his supporting characters. Each month I look forward to reading these issues, as not only does it feature a plethora of creative teams, but also a range of different takes on Superman, which I love seeing. This issue features five brand new stories, which I’ll review individually as per previous issues.
The first story is titled “Namperus” and is written by Mark Waid, with art by Audrey Mok and colours by Jordie Bellaire. In this story the tables are turned as Superman pays a visit to the fifth dimension to give Mr Mxyzptlk a taste of his own medicine. First of all I adored this story, Mr Mxyzptlk is one of my all time favourite Superman villains and it was great to see him back in the pages of a comic book. The whole concept of it was great too, it’s not often we see the tables turned like this, and although Superman is there to get his own back, he does so with a talk as to why he’s there and with a very sweet gesture, although Mxyzptlk is having none of that! The artwork and colours by Mok and Bellaire are fantastic, it’s very unique and I adore the pastel hue to it, it makes it look really classical. The art style is very cartoonist but I think it works perfectly with a character like Mr Mxyzptlk and we really get a taste of his torment with his facial expressions in this story.
The second story is titled ‘Prospect Of Tomorrow‘ and is written and illustrated by Francis Manapul. This was a really sweet story, which had an even sweeter ending as Superman embarks on a journey alone for a search. It isn’t until the end that we find out that the search was for Bizarro, which seemed like an unlikely rescue, but as Lois Lane points out in the story no problem is too big or too small for him to tackle. I loved that, and it is the perfect analogy to express the wholesomeness and determination of Superman. The artwork in this story is absolutely incredible. I’ve seen snippets of Manapul’s work for this story via his social media channels and even out of context they are incredible. I adore the textures of his work, the detail and the red and blue colours really make his Superman stand out. It’s always a pleasure to see his artwork connected to Superman and it was also great to see a glimpse of his Bizarro too.
The third story is titled “A Little Is A Lot” and is written by Robert Venditti, with art by Alitha Martinez and colours by Emilio Lopez. This was one of the most simplistic of stories that showcased how much Clarks upbringing influenced the man he is today, but though it was simple, it was my favourite of this issue. I’m a big fan of Robert Venditti’s take on Superman in general and this just reminded me why. It had a beautiful message which I think a lot of people can relate to. Sometimes people are hesitant to give or to help because they feel that they can’t afford it or don’t want to be seen giving too little, but a little can be a lot in the right circumstances, and however you are helping, the point is that you’re trying. As for the artwork, there are several moments here where Venditti allows the artwork to speak for itself and it does exactly that. The artwork is great and I love the textures used for shading, it’s cleverly done and is really effective, especially during the action sequences.
The fourth story is titled “For The Man Who Has Nothing” and is written by Michael W Conrad, with art by Cully Hamner. This too was a fun story, although I admit at first I was not having any of it as I felt the portrayal of Superman was totally off, but then I realised what was really going on. This story has a great payoff and a really adorable portrayal of Bizarro, which captured him perfectly. Like the previous story, it’s the small gestures that go a long way here and I love that Superman took the time to do that. The artwork by Hamner perfectly accompanies this story, though I will say this take on Bizarro is a little terrifying at times. Hamner has nailed every facial expression here, from sadness, menace and happiness, the reader easily understands how the character is feeling, and that’s a great skill to have.
The final story is titled “#Saved By Superman” and is written by Rich Douek with art by Joe Quinones. I loved this story, firstly it was just so relevant to the times now, and secondly it really got me thinking and that is what is great about this story and Superman in general. Whilst I’m frequent with social media, I don’t take part in crazy challenges that selflessly cause trouble and danger, and I just love how Superman dealt with that here. Not to mention the adorable moment where he takes a selfie with a young girl, that was beautiful and that’s what Superman is all about, he is for everyone. The artwork by Quinones was fantastic in this story too, I really loved it and he draws a majestic Superman in any situation. I particularly loved the textures used in the backgrounds for the action sequences, each one was different and really allowed it to stand out.
Once again Superman: Red & Blue #4 was a fantastic issue filled with great stories that showcased everything I love about Superman. The creative teams behind these stories really gave it their all with their portrayals of the character and I would love to see more of their take on Superman after reading this.
Haven’t picked up Superman: Red & Blue #4 yet? You can get the standard cover by John Romita Jr here (UK), or here (US). If you prefer the variant cover by Walt Simonson, you can get that here. Or if you prefer the variant by Alexander Lozano you can get that here.
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