If you’ve poked around our site a bit, you’ll have noticed that DC is often criticized for their editorial and business practices. Most recently, we criticized DC for running Justin Jordan off of Superboy. Still, sometimes DC gets things very right. Their digital strategy is a great example of this. They have a series of weekly releases fairly priced at $0.99, among which are some of DC's top titles: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman ’66, and Batman: Lil Gotham. Perhaps, the most consistent of the DC digital first books is the Adventures of Superman. Written by Rob Williams and Illustrated by Chris Weston, Adventures of Superman 12 is not just the best entry in the series, it's the best Superman story released since the New 52 launched nearly 2 years ago..
Some of the greatest Superman stories deal with Superman’s identity as a Kryptonian, questioning whether Superman is a human or an alien. Alan Moore’s For the Man Who Has Everything, Superman dreams of being on Krypton. In Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright, Superman struggles to prove that he is human. At the center of this human/alien dichotomy is Clark Kent’s relationship with his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. This defining relationship is the focus of Rob Williams’ story. The issue is narrated by Ma Kent and gives her a sentimental voice in much the same way that Jeph Loeb gave Pa Kent a voice in Superman: For All Seasons.
Ma Kent sees her son Clark as a tragic hero. She describes him as a man constantly moving and always trying save someone, whose tragic flaw is that he can’t stop. He is a man who is always moving, but “Never stops. Never stays with those who could make him happy.” Ma Kent understands that for Clark this compulsion comes not just from how they raised him, but also from his Kryptonian heritage. In the emotional climax of the story, Superman looks longingly at the shrunken Kryptonian city of Kandor as Ma Kent explains that Superman is “My son, but always their son. Those he couldn’t save.” Superman is driven by both his humanity and the tragedy of the Kryptonian legacy.
For fans of the Man of Tomorrow, the Adventures of Superman 12 is a must read. The story is a tragic and uplifting character study. There is an economy of storytelling in this issue that admirable. In a digital issue, Williams manages to tell the story of Superman from his origin to the modern day in 20 digital pages. As Ma’ Kent narrates, Williams frees Chris Weston’s pen. We see Superman fight Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, and Despero. Even with all the action, Weston’s art shines in the sentimental moments. It is Ma Kent watching a shooting star or Superman gazing at Kandor that provide emotional weight to Williams words. Weston and Williams have made an issue that is both sentimental and fun. I doubt you can find a better story to spend 99 cents on.