Writer: Mark Russell
Art: Michael Allred and Laura Allred
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: September 27th, 2022
It’s the 1970’s and the history of this alternate Earth version of Superman continues in Superman: Space Age #2. It’s a blast of Silver Age goodness with modern sensibilities, as we watch Clark’s uneasy developing relationship with Lois Lane, as well as the formation of this Earth’s version of the Justice League. This Earth’s Batman follows his own path too, and he’s a much harsher and even more obsessed version of the Earth-Prime Batman. It’s another beautiful issue of this impressive series, which makes the nostalgia of the Silver Age feel fresh and new.
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Superman: Space Age #2 begins with Superman facing off with a pimp (it’s a short fight) and ends with a battle against Braniac, who in this universe is a Galactus-level threat. A sense of inevitable doom hangs over the book, as if the Earth’s destruction is coming and there’s nothing that can be done about it, but still, this Superman’s optimism shines through. His developing relationship with Lois is fun to read, as here, like in the Silver Age, she doesn’t know Clark is Superman. Or does she? Not only do we get to see their relationship deepen, we get to see Lois’s fight to earn her place as the top reporter in an all-male field in the 70’s. We also get to see her change Superman’s perspective on what REALLY makes a difference in the world, and this rattles Superman to his core, as he continues as a hero even as he questions if he’s truly making an impact on the world.
Despite Superman’s name being in the title of the book, Batman gets nearly equal time throughout the issue, as we see Bruce have his own journey of self-doubt. I loved this Earth’s version of Batman’s costume, which looks like a more real world-based version of the 1960’s Batman costume, with a much bigger version of the bat symbol draped across his chest and a cape that looks hastily crafted by Alfred. This version of Batman is far from the goofy wacko of the 1960’s. He’s obsessed with saving Gotham City, which has been reduced to a huge slum. He decides to go after the big corporations that are destroying Gotham, rather than focusing on busting street-level hoods, and he goes to shocking lengths to hit the corporations where it hurts.
The Justice League on this Earth is very much like Earth-Prime’s Justice League: Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and a reluctant Batman. The heroes are pretty much the same as the Silver Age Earth-Prime versions, save for the Flash, who is rendered as goofy comic relief here, always diverted by the tiniest things and never really focused on anything the team’s discussing. This was my only problem with the book. Barry Allen’s always been one of my favorite heroes, and to see him treated much like Elongated Man on Earth-Prime, as a running joke (no pun intended) was a bit painful.
This isn’t the “we’re one big happy team” pre-Crisis version of the Justice League that existed for so many years on Earth-Prime, because Batman views the team as more of a nuisance on his time than something that’s valuable. Honestly, I never understood why Batman was in the Justice League anyway, or Oliver Queen for that matter. Both are street-level heroes, and that’s really emphasized here.
I do wish there were more scenes between this Superman and Batman, but they both have such dichotomous goals, that they only bump into each other at the Justice League meetings. What we do get between them is top notch, though.
Overall, despite the differences between this Earth’s heroes and the Earth-Prime versions, there’s still a wonderful warm feeling of nostalgia, seeing Green Lantern and Flash in action together again, as well as this light-hearted Christopher Reeve-style version of Superman, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Mike and Laura Allred’s art on Superman: Space Age #2 is as stunning as ever, and really captures the Silver Age feel the book is going for. I love their rendition of every character in the book, especially Batman, whose costume always looks hastily thrown together and improvised, much like a hero starting out would wear.
Most startling is their depiction of the slums of Gotham City vs. the city of Metropolis, which seem like they’re on two different planets. You can see the suffering of the people in Gotham City, the run-down buildings and filthy streets. Metropolis is all bright lights, billboards and glistening skyscrapers everywhere, and that globe on top of the Daily Planet building always majestic in the background. The Allreds have always been one of my favorite art teams, and their art shines here.
Superman: Space Age #2 is another triumph of an issue, blending Silver Age nostalgia and super-hero action with modern themes of drama, heartbreak and isolation. It’s a beautiful story that ends on a high note leading into next issue. Highly recommended.