Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman: True BritScheduled to arrive in stores: October 2004
Cover date: December 2004
Writer: Kim "Howard" Johnson and John Cleese
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Mark Farmer
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
The planet Krypton, erupting, looses the infant Kal-El in a rocket ship toward Earth. It lands, per Jor-El's instruction, in England, where Kal-El is taken in by a fuddy-duddy pair of English worry-warts, worried about what the neighbors will think, Martha and Jonathan Clark. They name the boy Colin, and take the ship home on the top of their car.
The Clarks watch Colin grow up, and try to get him to hide his powers, because of his penchant for error, slamming into the ceiling when jumping and melting cups when trying to heat them. Jonathan even makes him glasses that suppress his heat vision from Colin's ship.
Jonathan shows Colin a video projector they found at the rocket's crash site, and Colin finds out about Krypton. His parents force him to avoid his superpowers and grow up respectable.
Colin continues trying to use his powers, but fails. One time, he injures a horse, the next time, he accidentally tosses stumps into the house, and another, he milks the cows...causing some real pain to the cows.
Colin suppresses his powers and goes to college to be a journalist, where he meets a girl he wants to date who wants nothing to do with him, Louisa Layne-Ferret.
Frustrated, Clark takes up cricket and continues trying to get the courage to talk to Layne-Ferret. He accidentally impales one of his friends with a loose cricket bat.
Dr. Whyte-Badger, Colin's journalism teacher, reams Colin for not getting the story he caused by losing control of the cricket bat.
Colin's actions impress Louise, who agrees to go on a date with him. Colin starts using his powers to help others in minor ways.
On his date with Louise, he sees a celebrity with his x-ray vision and goes to get the exclusive.
The next day, celebrating his article, Colin sees a parking garage emergency across the street. Two members of the Rutles dangle from the garage in a car.
Colin super-speeds to his parents and pleads desperately to be allowed to save them. They relent, as long as no one will know who Colin is.
He shows up on the scene in a Superman suit with British colors and saves the duo.
Soon after, Jimmy Bartholomew-Olsen dangles from a skyscraper trying to get naked photos of a starlet. He falls, but Superman saves him. Jimmy has him stand next to the starlet, he takes some photos, and the next day they run it as an affair between Superman and the starlet in the newspaper Colin and Jimmy work for, the Daily Smear.
At dinner, the woman Colin took pictures of pours her drink on him, because he took pictures of her when she was just practicing a love scene for a show. Louisa leaves him for it, but still wants Superman, as she reveals outside, kissing him.
Colin goes to find his parents, but his parents have moved away. Colin eventually finds them, and they play dumb.
Superman continues his good deeds, and people start giving him medals, which he wears all over the place until they cover his symbol.
The Queen gives him three tasks, to make the trains run on time, to make hip replacement more efficient, and to make the BBC programming more intelligent. He succeeds through forcing the trains faster, working with the doctors, and intimidating the BBC programmers.
Covering a sign being changed to "Superman Lane", Colin runs into what he believes to be Louisa, but is actually Lois Lane, from America. Colin hits it off with her, to his surprise.
He tries to tell his parents, but they've moved again. He finds them again.
The newspaper pressure heats up on Superman. Lois Lane gets an exclusive interview with Superman.
The good deeds Superman did for the Queen backfire on him. Rushing the trains caused whiplash, etcetera. Superman tries to save his public image. He makes coal into diamonds and tries to pay off the debt, but it only devalues diamonds and messes up the economy.
Bartholomew Stoat-Bagge, a cloaked figure, ribs Colin for the diamond caper, and tells him that the Queen wants him to play a one man cricket game with his super-speed in order to make up for the diamonds.
They play the game, and Superman tries not to hurt anyone, but he lodges a ball in a man's forehead. They term the man Brainiac.
Stoat-Bagge gives Superman a medal for winning, a green medal. Superman steps on Stoat-Bagge's cape, which tears to reveal BATMAN, the man Colin hit with a bat when he first played cricket, with the bat still impaled in his chest.
They conspire to take Superman down with a Superman Revenge Squad. Slowly, bad publicity takes down Superman, who can't stop them because of the green medal he still wears making him weak.
Colin tries to find his parents again, who have disappeared, and he finally finds them in the arctic, in a fortress of solitude. They take off the ring, which is Kryptonite, and Superman feels better.
He goes back to England, but Louise and Perry have conspired to destroy Colin's secret identity, with the Batman. Colin realizes what's going on, and he reveals who he is to the world. His parents flee the country.
Colin decides a change of locale is in order, and he moves to America to be Superman, just as his parents arrive.
Story - 3: This is a normal story, and even a well told story, but there's nothing really special about it. It was coherent, it went from a to b, but it lacked pinash. This was, at its core, a ploy for readers along the same lines as "Welcome to the Working Week." Take celebrity tab A, add comic book slot B, and you have what could be a success.
This comic is not hardly worth 25 dollars. Get it in trade, if at all.
What they did was they overhyped, they overdid, and they made a hardback in order to make it look fancy, when really it's just a cut and dried story. It has Byrne, it has Cleese, and there are even some great references and payoffs. The Batman is ingenious, the Superman Revenge Squad and Brainiac are worked in well, as is the goal of most good Elseworld tales, to tell a story we already know in a new frame of reference. And the RUTLES, I mean, seeing another reference to the Rutles is awesome. If you don't know, The Rutles is an old Beatles parody bit from the Python crew that is rarely referenced but quite funny.
BUT, that said, the story is very plain, it tries to be too serious when it's being played for yuks oftentimes, and it's hard to really immerse yourself in the comedy OR the story, consequently.
Also, there's the rather simple question, what's the big difference between a British and an American Superman? Our countries, though executing differing philosophies, are people by similar folk who speak English, like a lot of the same things, and have similar attitudes about a lot of things. There's no real difference. It'd be like saying, "What if Superman landed in Canada?"
Well, he might say "Eh?", and he might have a little French in his language, but that's not enough to merit an ELSE-world.
It was slogging at times, but mostly, it told a simple, normal story. That's the problem though. Simple. Normal. Worth a read, perhaps, but not worth a hardback, not worth twenty-five bucks, and it comes across as an obvious ploy for readers and sales.
I get the feeling that Cleese had an idea, he told it to a writer, the writer wrote it, and they attached his name to it. That's how the book feels. Because I've read Cleese scripts, and he's not this cliche...and if he is, something happened to him between A Fish Called Wanda and now.
Art - 3: Byrne is just not as revolutionary and interesting as he used to be. It seems like everywhere I see him, he's phoning it in. JLA, True Brit, both of these tell the story, true enough, and they have his definitive style, but it doesn't seem like he's moving forward as an artist. He does his job. This tells a story. But there is not a single image in this special that is memorable to me, which is sad, considering how much I admire Byrne for his contribution to the Superman saga.
Cover Art - 3: Again, it portrays what the story is about, and it's graphically well done, but there's nothing special, nothing exciting, nothing cool about it. It's just the Superman symbol contrasted with the flag of Britain.
Sorry. That's all there is to it! It's not badly colored, it's not a bad image, it's just, well, not interesting. It's average.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2004Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Action Comics #809
- Adventures of Superman #622
- Superman #199
- Superman/Batman #4
- Superman: Birthright #5
- Superman: Metropolis #10
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #1
- JLA #90
- Justice League Adventures #25
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #11
- Superman/Thundercats #1
- Smallville #5
- Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #3
- JLA/Avengers #3
- JLA-Z #3
- Action Comics #810
- Adventures of Superman #623
- Superman #200
- Superman/Batman #5
- Superman: Metropolis #11
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #2
- JLA #91
- Justice League Adventures #26
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #12
- Action Comics #811
- Adventures of Superman #624
- Superman #201
- Superman/Batman #6
- Superman: Birthright #6
- Superman: Metropolis #12
- JLA #92
- Justice League Adventures #27
- Smallville #6
- Superman: Secret Identity #1
- Action Comics #812
- Adventures of Superman #625
- Superman #202
- Superman/Batman #7
- Superman: Birthright #7
- JLA #93
- Justice League Adventures #28
- Superman: Secret Identity #2
- Action Comics #813
- Adventures of Superman #626
- Superman #203
- Superman/Batman #8
- Superman: Birthright #8
- JLA #94
- JLA #95
- Justice League Adventures #29
- Smallville #7
- Superman: Secret Identity #3
- JLA/Avengers #4
- Action Comics #814
- Adventures of Superman #627
- Superman #204
- Superman/Batman #9
- Superman: Birthright #9
- JLA #96
- JLA #97
- Justice League Adventures #30
- Superman: Secret Identity #4
- It’s a Bird [Vertigo] (Hardcover)
- Action Comics #815
- Adventures of Superman #628
- Superman #205
- Superman/Batman #10
- Superman: Birthright #10
- JLA #98
- JLA #99
- Justice League Adventures #31
- Smallville #8
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #1
- Action Comics #816
- Adventures of Superman #629
- Superman #206
- Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Superman: Birthright #11
- JLA #100
- Identity Crisis #1
- Justice League Adventures #32
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #2
- Action Comics #817
- Adventures of Superman #630
- Superman #207
- Superman/Batman #11
- Superman: Birthright #12
- JLA #101
- JLA #102
- Justice League Elite #1
- Identity Crisis #2
- Justice League Adventures #33
- Smallville #9
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #3
- Action Comics #818
- Adventures of Superman #631
- Superman #208
- DC Comics Presents: Superman #1
- Majestic #1
- JLA #103
- JLA #104
- DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America #1
- Justice League Elite #2
- Identity Crisis #3
- Justice League Adventures #34
- Action Comics #819
- Adventures of Superman #632
- Superman #209
- Superman/Batman #12
- Majestic #2
- JLA #105
- JLA #106
- Justice League Elite #3
- JLA: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Identity Crisis #4
- Justice League Unlimited #1
- Smallville #10
- Action Comics #820
- Adventures of Superman #633
- Superman #210
- Superman/Batman #13
- Majestic #3
- JLA #107
- Justice League Elite #4
- Identity Crisis #5
- Justice League Unlimited #2
- Superman: True Brit
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.