Superman Up in the Sky #2 is here and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this issue and the reason being is very simple. The Cover. Ever since I saw the solicitations for this cover my enthusiasm and anticipation levels have been through the roof.
The incredible art adorning this cover is created by interior artist Andy Kubert and sees a bloody and bruised Superman taking position inside of a boxing ring with his tattered gloves raised as the bout continues on. I adore this cover for so many reasons. For one, I’m a huge boxing fan and seeing one of my other many passions integrated into comics is always very special to me. It doesn’t end there with boxing as this cover really takes me back – as I’m sure it does for many other Superman fans to that famous 1978 issue when Superman takes on Muhammad Ali.
The cover itself is so unique and totally striking. Superman’s posture is identical to that of a Pugilist going deep into another grueling round. I love how Andy Kubert draws Superman. He always looks thick and muscular, and very reminiscent of the way Frank Miller draws him. The line work in Superman’s forearms and neck really highlight the stress the Man of Steel is under. As for the facial expressions, well they don’t get anymore self explanatory than this. Superman is beaten and bruised and most definetly vulnerable. You get a real sense of realism and threat seeing Superman’s face looking this way, and its something you don’t see very often especially on a cover. This tells me that the Walmart exclusive 100-Page Giant Comics line really gives creators room to play and work slightly more outside the box.
When it comes to the interior, this issue is essentially broken up into two separate tales, both of which chronicle Superman’s journey into space as he searches for an abducted child. Both stories are wonderful and complement each other perfectly.
The entire first half of the issue sees Superman in an unknown location in space. He is taking on ‘Mighto’ inside of a boxing ring with the alien mercenary baiting Superman with information regarding ‘Alice’, the missing child from Earth. Every page of this particular story represents one round of 12 bouts of boxing. Each page is a masterpiece as artist Andy Kubert utilizes a plethora of panel layouts including single page splash pages to convey all the action of a boxing match. Mighto is an alien mercenary that I’m somewhat unfamiliar with but I feel he is the perfect foil for Superman in this instance. The pairs in ring dynamics and chemistry really worked for me.
Tom King includes every possible turn of events that you could ever possibly see in a boxing match. From the two competitors touching gloves to right hooks, near falls and jaw shattering uppercuts, this issue has it all. You even see Superman’s corner tending to him in-between rounds. The attention to detail is just staggering. Considering Superman is a larger than life superhero the combat and fight choreography during this half of the issue is so realistic and grounded. It looks and feels like boxing. Both competitors fighting stances and posture are completely identical to that of real life Pugilists.
Andy Kubert is so talented at drawing muscles and tendons and strained sinew that you honestly believe these two men have been slugging it out for sometime now. The passage of time is certainly detectable during this part of the issue. I love the fact that Superman has custom Boxing attire on throughout the bout. Its just one of those plot holes you simply ignore because what you are seeing is just so damn epic. The dialogue featured in this part of the issue is very reaffirming indeed. Superman is on the ropes and needs to find that extra impetus to win. Mighto proves to be a perfect sporting antagonist as he continually attempts to psych out Superman, and fill him with doubt.
As we progress, we find ourselves within the second story of the issue which sees an almost lifeless Superman rescued from space by a benevolent race of alien beings that look to heal the man of steel. As this second tale begins I’m not entirely sure if this follows directly on from the first story told. This is my one piece of criticism I have regarding the issue as I feel it could have been woven together slightly tighter.
I love the way these scenes are presented to the reader. Thanks to the thoughtful positioning of the artwork depicting Superman’s various acts of heroism. It becomes instantly recognisable that a connection has been formed between Superman even in his weakened state, and the healer charged with his recovery and recuperation. I love how the healer bears witness to the heroism of Superman and vice versa. Superman’s heroic acts depicted are all quintessential Superman rescues while the dialogue used is both powerful and reaffirming.
As the issue comes to a close, the themes of sacrifice, selflessness and believing in something bigger than yourself really feature prominently. I felt every emotion while reading these closing scenes. I really was getting choked up as my heart was breaking for the characters. Andy Kubert’s artwork is outstanding in this issue. It honestly feels like we are treading entirely new ground with this race of aliens, as he has created new and unique architecture and alien anatomy that really takes the reader into the unknown.
Writer Tom King really allows Kubert’s artwork to speak for itself, which I believe adds so much weight to every dramatic page which this issue is packed full of. Tom King’s writing evokes so much emotion in me. The Eisner award winning writer has incredible balance and seems to never over do it. King always seems to go for quality over quantity and this is perfectly represented during Superman’s dialogue on the final page.
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