Superman: Red & Blue #5 is here and brings with it a selection of stories brought to life by the industries finest artists and writers. So far, not a single issue has disappointed and I’m happy to report that this issue is no exception.
But before we get into the issue itself, let’s take a look at the covers. The main cover is very whimsical indeed as Superman is pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Krypto all while holding aloft a wrecked wiener truck. This is a very charming cover, full of heart, hope and happiness. Amanda Conner really captures all the charm and character of Krypto with just a simple stance and wiggle of the tail and Alex Sinclair’s colours really keeps the tone of the cover buoyant and full of life.
The variant cover created by Art Adams is a masterclass in detail and texture. This extraordinary duo have created an awe-inspiring and dynamic piece which sees Superman on the offensive surrounded by debris. The crosshatch technique employed is truly stunning as this method builds up the image as well as surface and texture.
The second variant cover is by Miguel Mercado and showcases a very classic looking Superman as he soars through the sky just below an aeroplane. Firstly, I love that the trunks aren’t even trunks, this is such a classic take on Superman that he’s actually wearing shorts, but I also love the optimism in his face and the confidence in his posture. I adore the realism of this piece, from the details in the sky to the rosy expression upon his cheeks, this is a truly great piece.
Superman: Red & Blue #5 features five brand new stories from a range of creative teams, which I’ll review individually as per previous issues.
The first story is titled ‘Fetch’ and is written by Judd Winick, with art by Ibrahim Moustafa. In this story, a young Clark Kent discovers a ship similar to his own that has crash landed near by. Upon further investigation the ship soon reveals its secrets as well as precious cargo in the form of a young pup named Krypto. I love how the ships artificial intelligence takes the form of a young Jor-El and explains to the audience the ships purpose and reason for its untimely arrival. Jor-El looks incredible in his version of the Superman suit. The themes of loneliness and belonging feature throughout the story and Clark’s bond with Krypto is instantaneous as the young man finds himself alongside one of his own for the very first time. This really is heartwarming considering how long Clark has battled with being different and the last of his kind. Judd Winick has taken such a complex emotion and tackled it in such a relatable and reaffirming way. Ma and Pa Kent’s concern for Clark is conveyed so realistically. The pairs back and forth exchanges are just so authentic and exactly how I would expect them to behave.
Artist Ibrahim Moustafa’s artwork lends itself perfectly to Smallville’s humble trappings. Krypto looks absolutely adorable as he bonds with Clark and the artist captures all of Krypto’s character and soul with ease. There is such a sense of joy and happiness between the two that radiates off the page. Moustafa’s muted colour palette is perfect for such an emotional and at times melancholy tale and the reds really do add a jolt of life to proceedings especially when Krypto arrives.
The second story is titled ‘De-Escalation’ and is written by G. Willow Wilson with art by Valentine De Landro. Straight from the world created by Richard Donner and brought to life by Christopher Reeve, this story sees Clark talk down a would-be thief who is about to make the biggest mistake of his life. Clark’s portrayal in this story is a complete homage to Christopher Reeve’s interpretation of the character. Everything from his movements to facial expressions, mannerisms and etiquette is quintessential Christopher Reeve. I love the way Clark enters the store, bumping into the spinner rack. Learning that this is a regular occurrence only adds to the characters charm. I love the way Clark talks to the shop assistant, he is so friendly and reassuring towards her even when she doubts her own abilities when it comes to school. His words of wisdom and encouragement brought a smile to my face. and his belief in others is always at the fore. This doesn’t change even when faced by a masked assailant. Writer G. Willow Wilson truly understands Superman and his greatest power of all- his faith in humanity. The ideal that given the choice, humanity will always do the right thing.
Writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Valentine De Landro really do work in sync. The pairs distinct accents have come together to create a single voice that is truly timeless. Valentines’ attention to detail is phenomenal as the story takes place in an extremely detailed location. The artist has truly captured all the charm and whimsey found in Richard Donner’s seminal work and once again this is another muted colour palette with blue being the predominant colour. This works as it conveys really well the built up area are characters are inhabiting. The red being used for the assailant is a nice touch to represent the conflict found in this tale.
The third story is titled ‘Your Favourite’ and is written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story and Hi-Fi. This story plays out like a ‘life and times’ tale featuring not only Superman but Jimmy Olsen who has immortalised some of Superman’s most iconic moments to date. Jimmy is asked which photo of Superman is his favourite and he proceeds to run through some of Superman’s most memorable moments as well as the lengths he went through to capture them. I love the moments that Jimmy chooses, from The Death Of Superman to Connor Kent’s return to The House Of El, we receive the full scope of Superman’s momentous life. Joshua Williamson truly understands the connection Jimmy and Superman share and it is clear that the pairs friendship is timeless. The laughter and joy these two provide one another is conveyed beautifully during the quiet moments that the man of steel thrives on.
Writer Joshua Williamson really does allow for Chris Sprouse’s artwork to speak for itself. Chris Sprouse adapts his own art style perfectly to reflect each era represented and the artist who brought it to life. The artwork really is spectacular in this tale, as we get to see Superman in a number of eclectic scenarios. The numerous combat scenes featured are awe-inspiring to say the least, each hit the villains take reverberates off the page. The contrast between the sharp vibrant colours of Superman and Jimmy against a backdrop of memories gone by highlights the importance of the people who make them.
The fourth story is titled ‘Red Sun…Blue Dot’ and is written and illustrated by Mark Buckingham with colours by Lee Loughridge. In this heart wrenching tale, Jor-El relays to Lara his fears as Krypton’s ruling council dismiss his concerns regarding the destruction of Krypton. This compelling exchange is set against an incredible backdrop featuring Kal’s ship navigating space and its many threats. Mark Buckingham’s dialogue for Jor-El really sheds a light on the councils negative mind set and how it has infected Kryptons’ society as a whole. I love how Lara doesn’t fully agree with Jor-El’s chosen destination for Kal, this is a woman clearly grieving the loss of her child and the unknown awaiting him. Loss, sorrow and a sense of powerlessness radiate from Lara’s dialogue. This is a complex woman whose character is flushed out with only a few lines of dialogue, that is truly an impressive feat.
Mark Buckingham’s incredible artwork really speaks for itself. I love the use of monochrome to convey the bleakness of space and the many treats lurking within. He has created the most engaging splash pages imaginable full of chaos and insurmountable odds threatening to destroy this precious vessel. I simply adore Kal-El’s ship in this story, of course it had to be the classic design. The red and blues pop instantaneously off the page thanks to the monochrome backdrop and the use of ‘Kirby Krackle’ really adds to the classic feel of this most famous of journeys.
The final story is titled ‘Generations’ and is written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson. In this most poignant of tales a young Jonathan Kent seeks council from his church as he faces a crisis of confidence, and he worries that he is not enough. That his modest life hasn’t garnered enough wisdom or experience to impart on his son. These kinds of emotion are all to common. This is an important subject that definetly needs to be highlighted. Jonathan in this time and place is the perfect vehicle for such a topic. Jonathan carries the wisdom imparted on him this night throughout his life and I love how he conveys his love for Clark every chance he gets. Seeing Superman do the same truly brought a tear to my eye and seeing lessons taught by the father only to be repeated by the son really is comforting. This really is testament to Clark’s upbringing and the love and support he was shown is reflected in his approach to life.
Daniel Warren Johnson’s artwork is sensational and lends itself perfectly to the intricate design of the church and detailed machinery like Clark’s school bus and Jonathan’s tractor. I love how this story is predominantly black and white, this really adds to the simplicity of the time and the colour palette that is used sparingly conveys the mood of the scene beautifully.
Superman: Red & Blue #5 is another epic issue filled with emotional and heartwarming stories about my favourite character, Superman. It’s safe to say that each and every one of the creatives involved in this issue truly understands and respects Superman and everything he stands for. It was a true pleasure to read.
Haven’t picked up Superman: Red & Blue #5 yet? You can get the standard cover by Amanda Conner here (UK), or here (US). If you prefer the variant cover by Art Adams, you can get that here. Or if you prefer the variant cover by Miguel Mercado, you can get that here.
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