Superman: Up in the Sky #2 Review – Surprises
Superman Up in the Sky
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Andy Kubert
Inks by: Sandra Hope
Colors by: Alex Sinclair
Published by DC Comics
If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you haven’t), I usually review the latest issue of Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil the week it comes out. However, while that issue was great, something a little more pressing took the forefront: Tom King is writing Superman. I have talked about Tom King to no end, both praising him and decrying him, but with the fiasco that was Heroes in Crisis and his never-ending Batman run, things have been more on the negative side lately. Even here I thought “Oh well, here we go again”, because I didn’t like King’s short story in Action Comics #1000 and I assumed this was going in that direction as well. Not to spoil the review, but let’s just say I was… mistaken. Before we get to that though, let’s first look at the plot.
Last issue, Superman finds out that a little girl was kidnapped and taken into space. After debating with himself for a while whether it’s worth it to go after her vs his duties on earth, he finally does what we all knew he was going to do and goes after her. This issue has two stories in it. The first concerns Superman fighting a boxing match to the breaking point until he can get information about the girl. The second one, concerns the quandary of an alien healer who can cure the mortally wounded Superman they found, but isn’t sure if he should.
Now this is where I stop burying the lead, and can finally once again praise Tom King. I know, I know, feels like some time’s passed since then, right? Well, while the stories presented are extremely simple, that works to their advantage and we get a quick shot of good old fashioned Superman goodness.
The first plot is very easy to understand (Superman in a boxing match with an alien) and the point it makes regarding the character of Superman is very simple, but I like that it still makes that point. The point of that story is that Superman doesn’t give up. Ever. Things might be bad, he might be in pain or he might be losing horribly, but Superman doesn’t give up no matter what happens. Really, I think this page says it all:
The second plot is slightly more interesting, and it’s the type of idea that I’m shocked we haven’t seen before in a Superman comic. A race of aliens find Superman’s body floating through space, near death, and the only way that their Healer can cure him is by sacrificing his own life. Everyone there says “Well, tough, but we don’t owe this guy anything” but the Healer can see into Superman’s mind and see all the good he’s done. Therein lies the conflict, and a very compelling conflict at that.
Almost everyone on earth has a vested interest in making sure that Superman lives, because he’s the guy who can punch gods in the face and make them say “ow”. However, this situation is great because this culture has nothing at stake. They’ve never seen Superman and he’s never saved anyone from there, with even the Healer admitting that he has no reason to save him. Actually, if the Healer saves him, not only does he leave behind his wife and children, but his own society essentially loses a Doctor.
It’s a very well done version of that “Greater Good” choice, but without stakes for the person who has to sacrifice themselves. Congrats Tom King, this was short but surprisingly moving. And hey look, no one talked about Bats and Cats, how about that?
The art by Andy Kubert is good, but doesn’t reach the heights of my beloved “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”. Still really good, with sharp lines and distinct colors (and a cut above his recent work in, say, New Challengers), just not quite that level.
So, in the end, I feel compelled to recommend this book. It is a little simplistic, but simplicity works for Superman and these stories work with that and make something punchy and effective. Feels weird recommending a Tom King book in 2019, but the world is a crazy place. Go read it, guys.