COMIC BOOKS: Superman: American Alien

Nov. 5—Superman is an iconic character but also one that creators can use as a template.

Meaning, Superman is definitively certain things but big enough that some creators can do different things with him.

Even title a book "Superman: American Alien" with a tagline reading, "This is not a Superman comic."

And both the title and the tagline are correct.

Max Landis, who is better known as a screenwriter than comic book scribe, created the mini-series a few years ago that brings something new to the most famous superhero in history.

Everything is familiar here but everything is different.

The Kents find an alien baby and raise him in the Midwestern town of Smallville. They name the boy Clark. He has powers. He eventually moves to Metropolis to better use those powers. He becomes a newspaper reporter. He meets Lois Lane. He has a secret identity. He flies around, battling bad guys and helping folks, wearing a blue costume, with a red cape and a big yellow S. He's Superman.

All of that is here but so is the fact that Pa Kent is a bit doubtful of raising a super-powered alien boy. Given the size of Smallville, everyone knows young Clark has powers but they keep them secret when Clark moves to Metropolis.

Clark hits upon the idea of wearing a costume when he has an encounter with Batman.

So many nuances that make the familiar story something new.

Really, "American Alien" is the coming-of-age of a good kid named Clark Kent, who just happens to have superpowers and wants to do the right thing.

Each chapter in the collected edition of "Superman: American Alien" has a different artist, providing a different insight into young Clark as he develops from a child to a grown man.

"American Alien" may not be a Superman story but it has all of the things that make a great Superman story.