Superman 28, c-written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, continues from the previous issue where Clark, Lois and Jon Kent take a family vacation. It’s a vacation very much focused on American history, which normally wouldn’t be too interesting to a Canadian like me. But like the previous issue, this is very well balanced between exploring the United States and focusing on Superman’s family. Furthermore, a lot of the history discussed here explores strange things in how people view history. It questions why people tend to remember the Vietnam War so much more than the Korean War, even though the Korean War still affects global security today, whereas American and Vietnamese relations have been improving a lot in the last decade. That’s not to say they get along mind you, but they are improving.
Anyway, a lot of the other history can be applied to allies of the United States, especially when they discuss D-Day and World War 2 in general. But that’s not all they discuss. They touch on the importance of freedom of speech. I kind of wish they went a bit further with it, because oppression of freedom of speech tends to be when people who feel like they’re being silenced get violent out of desperation. That’s about as political as I’ll ever get on this blog. To put it simply, there are people on both sides of the political spectrum that disgust me and I’d rather not talk politics on the internet anyway.
In any case, this comic does a good job at staying focused on what the United States and its history means to Superman’s family and not on current political manners. In doing so, it’s just as much of a character study as it is a history lesson, and that’s why this comic works. There’s one extended scene toward the end where they meet a family celebrating their ancestor’s birthday (which happens to be July 4th), who died during the civil war and his body was never found. That night, Superman goes out of his way to track down the lost body to close the comic out. It’s a moment that showcases how much Superman really cares about people and how he uses his powers for far more than just beating up bad guys. It’s a big part of what makes him so special.
The art by Scott Godlewski is great. The page early on with protestors on either side of the Capitol Building stairs are well detailed, showing a variety of people on both sides, and the art is generally respectful to both sides. All of the backgrounds are well-detailed, whether it’s the war memorials, the forest the family walks through, or the famous buildings they walk by. Facial expressions and body language do a great job at conveying emotions, like Jon’s slight confusion with the protesters, Superman’s unrest when he’s considering tracking down the body, and only showing Lois’s backside when she finds her uncle’s name on a war memorial, allowing her body language to portray her show of respect. Gabe Eltaeb’s colouring is brilliant. There’s a lot of colour variety between the protestors and their clothing, and the forest scenes at night show some brilliant shadow work between the grass and the lights on the walking path. The flashbacks for the story of the civil war soldier whose body was lost is all tinted in brown, which feels just right.
There is a lot to like about this comic, even for someone who’s not from the country it’s focusing on. It talks about the importance of sacrifice and open debate. It discusses how sometimes, very important historic events are forgotten in favour of larger conflicts or more recent ones. Best of all, it shows what makes Superman so special, while also letting Clark, Lois and Jon be a family. The series starting off as a family drama is what made me fall in love with this series to begin with, and with all the larger story arcs lately, it’s nice when the series returns to its roots. This is an easy recommendation for Superman fans, and for American patriots as well.