Superman: Up in the Sky by Tom King

details
Title: Superman: Up in the Sky.
Writer(s): Tom King.
Penciller(s): Andy Kubert.
Inker(s): Sandra Hope.
Colourist(s):
Brad Anderson.
Letterer(s): Clayton Cowles.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: April 21st, 2020.
Pages: 176.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401294564.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

Heroes come and go. They sacrifice a bit, or all of them, to achieve something that will put a smile on another’s face. But whatever happens to them, they will always leave something behind. Whether it’s a little impression from far away or a life-changing event that directly implies them, heroes see themselves immortalized in the memory of those who witness them in action, sometimes even becoming legends who will go down in history as symbols of a society’s identity. However, within all heroes are emotions fundamental to their personalities. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t human, it is through their actions and their ability to communicate that we identify them as heroes. And sometimes, there’s a toll far too great to ever describe that comes with being a hero. Award-winning writer Tom King (Batman, Mister Miracle, The Sheriff of Babylon) teams up with legendary artist Andry Kubert (Flashpoint, Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race) to explore Metropolis’s greatest hero and the lengths he’d go to to save a single little child.

What is Superman: Up in the Sky about? Following a home invasion in Gotham, Batman requests Superman’s help in solving a mystery that no one has time for: who kidnapped a young girl and flew away with her off the planet? Despite being busy in Metropolis with large-scale and crisis-level problems on a daily basis, his mind continuously goes back to this missing girl who might be lost and incredibly scared alone out in the galaxy. As he convinces himself that no life can be ignored, his moral dilemma leads him on an adventure like none other, looking for answers that will help him bring back this girl to her home on Earth. But, at what cost?

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Although writer Tom King will probably mostly be known for his contribution to Nightwing and Batman’s characters, he has also dipped his toe occasionally in portraying a fairly impressive and memorable Superman. His ability to deliver one of the best bromances between Superman and Batman also highlights his understanding of their relationship, mostly through the Man of Tomorrow’s character. This time around, for the first time ever, he is even given the opportunity to explore the iconic hero in a brand-new and original stand-alone tale. In that optic, he looks to highlight Clark Kent and Superman’s most humane traits as they ponder one of the hardest questions that any hero has to ask themselves on a daily basis: is one life worth as much as the life of many?

While it is an intimate tale that only really succeeds in its execution upon reaching the final act where emotions are discretely solicited from the reader, the keyword associated with most of the journey is “bizarre”. As Superman struggles to decide what he will do about this lost girl, he ultimately finds himself convinced that his life is meaningless if he cannot save those who need help. He then goes on to merge his conscience with a terrifying source of data which hence allows Tom King to present various short stories of all kind where Clark Kent and Superman have their very existence challenged. From a boxing fight with Mighto to a war mission gone awry, there is very little context given to the reader but still allow enough substance to understand what makes Superman, Superman.

Although the ending has to convince the reader, there is an inspiring trait that can be noted through the artwork completely delivered by artist Andy Kubert. Through stunning splash pages and meticulous attention to detail, especially in his ability to convey powerful emotions in his characters, he succeeds in captivating the reader in a trance similar to what Superman suffers throughout the story without losing the reader in the sequences that are harder to understand due to their lack of context. The bold and contrasting colouring executed by Brad Anderson, on top of Sandra Hope’s inking, also gives a familiar yet refreshing tone to the overall tale. The graphic novel thus gains immensely in the synchronized execution of both story-telling and artwork.

Superman: Up in the Sky is an eccentric yet heartwarming character study of The Man of Steel as he puts his life and values on the line to save a little girl from danger.


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Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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16 comments

  • Great post Lashaan! Good to see a positive Supe’s story.

    The whole ethics of “one versus the many” is always something that can hashed over again and again, as there isn’t one universal catch-all. It’s good to see it (the ethical situation) being talked about though, as it really does need to be discussed and people should think about it and decide where they stand, even if people end up on opposite sides of the decision. If one hasn’t thought about an ethical situation ahead of time, they’ll be blindsided when it does hit them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, good sir. Definitely heartwarming to see these stories here and then.

      Exactly. Lots to learn from that dilemma. People need to dig deep into their conscious and understand what exactly they value most themselves. While we might not be put into situations that would force us to make those kinds of decisions, it is the kind of reasoning that can help us a lot in understanding the world and ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Though not all that interested in the character I do like the sound of the story. I often ejoy the “smaller,” more personal and intimate stories that don’t have to have universe shattering results. I love the idea of a struggle to save a little girl, maybe at the expense of saving others. Sounds like this could be a very good one. Thanks much for the great review, Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here. I love the more personal and self-contained stories, even if it gets quite psychedelic. It just allows the writer to give the character even more depth and remind us that heroes aren’t always untouchable. Thanks for reading as always, Todd! Always appreciate your thoughts on my reviews and the books I read!

      Like

  • Great review Lashaan, I must say this sounds like a good read and one I’ll of course be checking out. It’ll have to go some way to match up to Bendis’ Superman run (of which I seem to be the only advocate – not sure why there isn’t more love for it) for me, but I am a fan of Tom King more than I’m not (his short story in Action Comics #1000 was a highlight of that special anthology) and hopefully it will at least serve as a palate cleanser for those not so fond of his Batman work.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, I had no idea Superman wasn’t human 😂 The story sounds really good, it makes me think of the moral dilemma about killing 1 or 3 persons, I don’t know if you see what I mean 😂 I love the artwork too! Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shhh, it’s his secret! You can’t be saying that out loud to everyone! 😮 And yes, the Trolley Problem often associated with Kant! It’s essentially that, but this time around, adapted to Superman’s life. Or any superhero really. 😮 Thanks for reading, Caroline!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Love Kubert’s work, and this time even King’s name on the cover might not put me off entirely… 😂
    Great review, Lashaan, I really enjoyed your take on this dilemma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaahha I wonder if this bizarre tale could seduce you a little bit and give Tom King some credit whatsoever. I’ll refrain from optimistically recommending it to you for now. If you do give it a try, do let me know any negative, if no positive, thoughts you have on it!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL, I’m indeed quite steadfast in my likes and dislikes – though I’m willing to give King some benefit of the doubt still, as a proper optimist 😀 If I ever get this comic in my hands, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts with you 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  • OMG Lashaan I LOVE when you come with the big guns and ask about one life’s worth over many lives! Because that’s what books make us do (when they are well written): ask the philosophical questions. How to choose really? Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha indeed, Sophie! I love stories that challenge us on these ethical/philosophical questions and make us ask the questions for ourselves too (besides for these superheroes). Never an easy choice. 😉 Thanks for reading, Sophie!

      Like

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