Superman vs. Aliens
by Dan Jurgens, Kevin Nowlan
(DC/Dark Horse, 1995)

The book has an awesome premise, but it's slow to find its feet. Superman vs. Aliens begins with Clark Kent and Lois Lane voguing like fashion models en route to a mysterious assignment at LexCorp. (So great is the Daily Planet's clout, apparently, that two of its top reporters are summoned while all other media outlets in Metropolis are snubbed.) There is an alien vessel on a crash course for Earth and -- while to jaded comic-book readers it might seem like a minor thing, what with alien heroes and villains all over the place already -- the scientists are very excited by the chance to snag some alien tech. But Kent senses a Kryptonian connection and sabotages the expedition, switches garb and intercepts the ship in his familiar blues and reds. Soon, he's on his way into space in a borrowed shuttle (let's ignore the fact that he's already traveled the galaxy on his own steam in the past -- in this case, the shuttle plays a role in the plot) to confirm his belief that there are other survivors of Krypton out there.

Nearly a third of the story unfolds before any action takes place but, even moving at a snail's pace, some developments happen too fast. Superman's interstellar flight, for instance, seems to take about five minutes. If Earth is supposed to have spaceships that can fly back and forth so far and so quickly, one wonders why the DC Universe isn't populated by wandering astronauts.

Of course, as the title suggests, the floating rock of a colony is infested with aliens, and Superman -- attempting a rescue -- sends several host bodies back to the LexCorp satellite. (See, I told you he needed that shuttle for a reason!) Lois, as feisty as the infamous alien-fighter Ripley, has sense enough to kill the newborn aliens despite efforts by the mandatory mad scientist, who wants to harness their powers for weapons research. Meanwhile, Superman is far from the sun and nearly drained of power, but refuses to use lethal force because of his upright moral code. Sadly, that means he's repeatedly pummeled into a mess and must be saved now and again by the colony's last survivor, a 16-year-old blonde named Kara.

There are a few too many coincidences in this story, the action moves in jerky spurts and the book features some really bad art -- the characters have as much expression as department-store mannequins -- so it's hard to recommend this book, but let's face it, Superman against aliens makes for a really good fight. Superman fans and alien buffs will enjoy it despite its failings.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 22 March 2003

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