Superman 17 (2017)

Superman 17 (2017)

Pros

  • Breathtaking, atmospheric art
  • Perfect, creepy little one-off story

It’s a one-off horror story this week in Superman, issue 17, brought to us by writers Tomasi and Gleason and artist Sebastian Fiumara.

It’s a harrowing night in Hamilton County for Jon and Cathy, both of whom are left at home without their respective parents. In Jon’s case, Lois is working late in the city and Clark is off doing what Clark does. Jon, meanwhile, is at home pigging out on ice cream and scaring himself half to death watching scary movies in the big, empty farmhouse.

Cathy, on the other hand, is having a real-life horror movie play out, as her grandpa’s gone missing–along with the family’s best cow, Bessie–and so she naturally comes to Jon for help as the deep, dark night approaches.

This comic is, in so many ways, the perfect example of a perfect comic for me–and I’m talking about the “me” of many different eras, here. This is exactly the kind of book I ate up as a kid, and it’s exactly the kind of book I treasure today, as an “adult.” It’s superheroes, sure, but it’s also creepy and incorporates elements of the supernatural. It’s a quintessential Friday night comic book read, and boy, did it make me feel nostalgic for nights spent half-under the covers reading comics and books that were just a little too scary for me.

The art here, especially, is outstanding, and you just want to live in the lush, atmospheric horror that Fiumara has morphed the Hamilton countryside into. Dripping in shadows and drenched in black inks, the art here is simply breathtaking. And kudos to Gleason and Tomasi as they recognize their artist’s strengths and absolutely play to it.

Fiumara has worked on lots of books, but I primarily associate him with the Mignola-verse over at Dark Horse, where he pencilled issues of the fabulous Abe Sapien series. So, yeah, perfect fit for dark, creepy material.

Anyway, back to the plot. Despite Jon’s jumpiness (thanks in large part to the scary flicks he’s been watching), he agrees to help Cathy find her Grandpa. And so the pair goes off adventuring into the woods that surround the countryside.

There’s a nice juxtaposition once Jon and Cathy enter said woods, as Cathy is the one leading the charge and convincing a visibly frightened–although eminently invulnerable–Jon to keep moving forward in their search. It’s a nice touch–and not to mention a nice plot device going forward–to see Superboy frightened. We just don’t think of Clark as ever being scared (for his own safety, at least), so these nice little touches by Tomasi and Gleason are just going to add to the stories creative teams can tell about Jon as he becomes an increasingly important one in the DC Universe. He’s a Superboy who’s scared–mostly because he’s still very much a boy.

I’m not gonna spoil anything in this review because I really, really want you all to go out and read it and experience the creeping horror and sense of dread that the creative team pulls off so, so well.

But I will say this: On the surface, this issue is a creepy little one-off story that perfectly captures the fears of childhood. But, more importantly, it touches upon the growing (and very adult) responsibilities that come along with Jon’s burgeoning powers.

It’s a perfect lead into this week’s other big Jon book, Super Sons, issue 1, and, more than that, it’s my favorite comic book story of 2017 thus far. We’ll see how it stacks up as the year progresses, but I can safely say this–I will be revisiting this story often, especially around Halloweentime.

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