Pick of the Week
What did the
Art by Jae Lee, Yildiray Cinar
Colors by June Chung, Matt Yackey, & John Kalisz
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Jae Lee, June Chung, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, & John Kalisz
Size: 32 pages
When it comes to this issue being Pick of the Week, I can’t say it makes a lot of sense, other than, when I finished it, I knew it was the book I wanted to write about. If I’m scoring by numbers, and empirical facts, maybe this isn’t the Pick of the Week, but this is about heart, and this one managed to nudge mine just a bit.
What I learned is that I could read a story of Clark and Bruce as children playing together every week forever as long as they’re making comics. On paper, it sounds ridiculous. I don’t know if this is supposed to be canon, and if it was, that’s incredibly trite, but really, I don’t care, but it charmed the snot out of me. In the Up series of British documentaries, they use the quote “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man,” which, exact age aside, is why this was so compelling to me. While it would seem that the jagged artistic transition between Jae Lee and Yildiray Cinar might be too much, it instantly signaled that something else was happening here. I was hooked, and I freely admit that this is false affection, based on artificial feelings for characters I know aren’t real, but that doesn’t mean that my brain wasn’t squirting the same chemicals around that it would if these were real people. I long to see that sad little Bruce crack a smile, and young Clark finally have someone to talk to. I want to believe that Aflred always, always knows the best thing to do to take care of his charge in the best way possible. I want to know, even for a moment, that there are stories in which some moron hasn’t decided to kill off Pa Kent. I don’t know how Greg Pak knew that this was exactly what I wanted, or that, even for a jaded, frankly awful, cynical person like myself, it could crack my exterior, and give me the scene I most enjoyed reading all week, even though it should be incredible sentimental, but he made it work.
That bit was enough for me, but it wasn’t the only thing causing this series to get its second Pick of the Week in a row. There’s also the Superman factor. Ever since walking out of Man of Steel, I’ve been in a Superman kind of mood. Yet, like almost every person who has tried reading a Superman or Superman derivative comic for the last couple decades, I find myself wanting. But I like spending time with Superman. I especially like spending time with different iterations of Superman, and doing so concurrently. Sure, Batman is in this too, but there’s no shortage of pretty good Batman out there. Still, they are two great tastes that taste great together, so why not? I really like spending time around the two Supermans. It’s not quite the same as spending time with the three Thors, but the same thing is at work here as there is in Back to the Future 2: “What would you do if you met yourself?” Seeing young, dumb Clark interact with the incredibly capable and self-assured older Clark is just a lot of fun, as it is with the Bruces, to a lesser extent.
As we see creative and editorial come to terms with the fact that we’re only going to see so many Jae Lee pages per month, they’re thinking of other ways to fill the gap. Originally, way back two issues ago, they got someone to ape Lee’s style, which was partially successful, and in this iteration, they got Cinar to do his own style, or one of many styles, and work it into the rest of the book, much like we saw work in Iron Fist a number of years ago, when David Aja was only responsible for a portion of the issues. It worked just fine for me, and when we came back, I think Jae Lee earned his salary solely for the image of Darkseid, perched menacingly on the second to last page. In profile, of course.
Other than that, I can’t say I’m entirely clear what’s going on, or how they got there, or where they are. But it doesn’t matter, because the cores of these extremely well worn characters, and their relationship is the key to this comic book, and Greg Pak is showing me over and over lately that he’s a guy who can put the pieces together in the right way, even when it seems like there’s no more ground to cover. It’s also great to have another book rise out of whatever is happening at DC Comics these days. I applaud them for giving this book a chance, and an unorthodox style of both story and art, and just hope they keep it up for a nice, long run.
Alfred always know, man. Always.