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Graphic Novel Review: Superman: The Coming of Atlas by James Robinson and Renato Guedes

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Lately Superman has become even more of an everyman hero in the hands of Geoff Johns and James Robinson. Superman/Clark Kent has his roots in Kansas farmland after all, and his core values aren’t the same as Batman or Wonder Woman. Batman’s personal tragedy propels him, and Wonder Woman’s sense of duty keeps her motivated, plus that whole history of being raised among Amazons.

At the end of the day, though, the Superman of The Coming of Atlas is the kind of guy you can sit down with and talk about family issues. And he’d have good advice and experiences he could share with you. Beyond the super-powered stuff and being an alien from another planet, if those were your problems.

James Robinson really gets that about Superman as well, and his first scripting run on the character is fantastic. Okay, I’ll admit that the villain plot of The Coming of Atlas is a bit simplistic and creaky, but that isn’t the real story. The real story is even more basic and much deeper than villains trying to take a hero’s head off.

The graphic novel is the story of a boy and his dog. From page 1 to the final page, that’s what this book is about, and the dog lover and father in me was ecstatic about that. In fact, I’m pushing the book on to my 12-year-old now, and I’m ranting to you about it as well.

I loved the argument Lois and Clark had over whether Clark should keep Krypto, and how that argument escalated into whether Clark loved her and why he should love her even though he could have probably had anyone. Clark certainly answered that question with more aplomb than most guys out there would have.

But the thing that really sold me on the tale was Superman’s simple love for Krypto, and the way the dog returned that love. The scene with Superman playing fetch with Krypto out in space with Green Lantern watching was priceless. (Of course, it also made me wonder where GL was when Superman was getting the stuffing pounded out of him later.)

I wasn’t really sold on Atlas as a villain. For one, he didn’t really have an agenda against Superman, and I didn’t really know what happened to him at the end. However, Renato Guedes’s art is eye-popping. The battle scenes were terrific, and the black and white washed “memory” scenes of Lois and Clark were an absolute visual treat that really stood apart from the rest of the book.

One of Robinson’s greatest strengths is his vision of the characters he writes about. He can touch the core of their values, hopes, and fears like few other writers can. Even with the story isn’t particularly strong, Robinson’s portrayal of the heroes/characters will be. Highly recommended for the last scenes especially.

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