Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: 'Superman: The Atom Age Sundays-1956 to 1959'

Superman has gone through all sorts of variations in his 80 years, including— stupidly enough—dark, broody Superman. Like most of the comic book heroes who followed him, Superman was always best when he was at his most whimsical. Delightfully, IDW’s new collection Superman: The Atom Age Sundays-1956 to 1959 catches him at one such point. Without the depressing, often racist baggage of the war years, Superman is free to use the sun as his personal Turkish bath after gaining some extra pounds, match wits with an alien race of talking mushrooms, and testify at the trial of a giant chimp that shoots kryptonite beams from its eyeballs. Even his origin story is told after a wacky visit by G-Men from the future who insist that the "S" on Supermans chest is for "Shark." Hooray for Superman and the goofy scripting of writers such as Batman-creator Bill Finger!

Another pleasure of The Atom Age Sundays is how fluidly these one-a-week chapters coalesce into complete stories. With the exception of one of the three Lois Lane-centric stories that end the book, there is a minimum of annoying exposition intended to remind the reader of what happened the previous weekend. Since these are Sundays only, every comic is in full color. Consequently, this volume reads more like a collection of comic book stories than newspaper ones, and interestingly enough, the book’s introduction notes that the comic book and newspaper stories were mirroring each other at this point in Superman history (though writers Mark Waid and John Wells can’t reach a definitive conclusion about which medium was the chicken and which one was the egg). As usual, the packaging is beautiful with comic book-style textured paper, ribbon bookmark, and colorful hardcover. All of this makes for one of the very best volumes in IDW’s ongoing series of Superman newspaper comics.
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