Comic book review: The Adventures of Superman #14 by Max Landis

Whilst this is a movie site, rather than a comic one, I think it is interesting to chuck some reviews of different types of work on here occasionally. Plus the main story in The Adventures of Superman #14  is written by Max Landis, son of the great John Landis, he of the exceptional pitch for Ghostbusters 3 and writer of the excellent script behind the much beloved Chronicle (2012). So there is a film connection to this review.

supes 14 cover

There are a couple of great, distinguishing factors about this story from Landis. For starters, it features a nemesis of the Batman – The Joker, showing up on Superman’s turf. I am not all over comic book history, so it is quite possible these two have interacted on occasions before. But it was a novelty for me. One captured awesomely by the cover of the book which you can see above, with the Joker striking an iconic Superman pose.

The second distinguishing factor, and one that is possibly my favourite thing about this story, is that the ‘action’ so to speak consists almost entirely of the two characters standing around having a chat (ok Superman is technically hovering, but you get  my drift). By having them literally just talking, trading dialogue, the effect is that the reader feels they can genuinely peer into the psyche of both a major villain and an archetypically perfect hero. I have not read a whole lot of Superman comics, but they generally seem ultra serious. Or at least the character is. It is great then that Landis sets up this patter between the two characters with Superman interacting and toying with the Joker on a really fun level. Some of the best moments here are when Supes laughs at the Joker’s jokes, a reaction that the supervillain is really not sure how to take.

Something else that will interest comic book readers, or just fans of their films, is the somewhat terse relationship between Superman and Batman that Landis constructs. I won’t give too much of the detail away cause you really should read it to get the flavour of it. During his discussion with the Joker, Superman perhaps reveals some of his true feelings about Bruce Wayne’s superhero alter-ego. And then toward the end of the story the two of them have a little clash over what the responsibilities of being a superhero. Landis expanded on some of these ideas on his twitter account, today. Check out some of his thoughts below (and if you are on twitter, Landis is a great follow and often tweets out really interesting stuff on the writing process.

I loved the boldness of some aspects of the art in the book as well. Artist Jock obviously did not feel constrained to present everything in the one style or even stick to one physical depiction of the Joker. It is an approach that is initially a touch disconcerting but definitely grew on me as the story progressed. And given my movie focus, it would be remiss of me not to share this amazing panel, which pays homage to the interpretation of the character by Nicholson, Ledger and others. It does not totally stick out as a gimmick either because I think the effect is to show the constantly evolving and shifting mental state of the Joker, even in a single sentence.

supes jokers

There is also a second, fun story about Superman babysitting in The Adventures of Superman #14. It is not written by Landis, so I won’t give it a full review. But consider it a fun little extra if you decide to pick this one up. Which I highly recommend you do. It is a breezy and original read with some interesting psychology and superhero relationship stuff going on underneath.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Related articles for you to check out: Chronicle and Comic Review: Captain America The Winter Soldier film tie-in.

Like what you read? Then please like on facebook here and follow me on twitter @beer_movie

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