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Superman: The Harvests of Youth TP

Superman: The Harvests of Youth

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 3, 2023

"The Harvests of Youth"

Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Sina Grace
Cover: Sina Grace
Variant Covers: Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez, Ariel Colon, Meghan Hetrick

Reviewed by: Tony Parker
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It's Smallville, before Clark Kent has become Superman, before he's even learned that's who he wants to be. It's Smallville, with Ma and Pa Kent trying to raise their special alien son, with Lana Lang and Pete Ross offering Clark their support, with Lex and Lionel Luthor entering the Man of Steel's life.

But it's not your standard Superman origin. A hate group is unearthing fears and angers of troubled youths, such as Andy Buenaventure, a friend of Clark's who commits suicide. This loss instigates Clark to investigate, fall in love, confront his identity, and face his hardest question: When Superman can't save everyone, what do you do?

5Story - 5: This isn't going to be formatted in my usual style, seeing as this is a 199 page graphic novel. But I will go into some detail in this section, and I can safely say that this was one of the best Superman stories I've ever read.

No, really.

DC has been releasing a lot of these young adult and kids graphic novels. Some have been fun if not perfect ("Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge"), some have been intriguing if perhaps a little basic ("Batman: Nightwalker"), some have felt a bit too standard ("Mera: Tidebreaker") and some have been "Gotham High".

Then there's the ones that have genuinely impacted not only myself but my comic book sensibilities.

"Superman Smashes the Klan" is my all time favorite Superman story.

"Superman: The Harvests of Youth" isn't number 2, but it's still REALLY dang good.

It's brilliantly told, never preachy, never sugarcoated. This, at the end of the day, is a story about suicide and the incel culture that is dominating our society, angry young men led astray by manipulative monsters hiding behind wax masks of sympathy.

Clark is perfect. He's dorky, he's goofy, he's awkward, he's relatable, he's all too human, desperate to help, but unable to find the right way. He feels and looks so soft, like he's made of clouds. He may not be Superman yet, but he feels like one right off the bat.

Lana and Pete (more so Pete) aren't necessarily the most compelling depictions, but they feel like true friends and interesting characters, offering visions of Clark's future allies in Lois and Jimmy. Lana's proto Lois Lane characterization was especially appreciated, moreso that she and Clark never had a thing going on. It so often ruins what can be a really sweet friendship.

Lex was quite an interesting depiction, not the one you'd expect (and not just because he looked like Tintin's silicon valley twin): More passively jerkish than evil. He seemed like what he would be in his age, and ignorantly privileged rich kid drawn to Clark because he struggles to comprehend someone just being that good.

Two original characters steal the show: Amy Buenaventure serves as an interesting original love interest, a broken girl tired of needing to be saved by everyone. She comes across as a great opposite to loud and determined Lois who still has to be saved here and there, plus a great character in her own right. You almost forget about "Clois", rooting for these two.

But it's Gill who really grabbed my attention, and not just because he's the closest we have to a definitive antagonist (or, well, foil). Gill is the next target of the hate group, a boy who only really has skateboarding. No girl wants to date him, he's destined to lead a life of boredom in Smallville, his friends are drifting apart, and then he breaks his ankle and can never skate again. Sinking into his self loathing, he begins directing it at others, desperate for the approval of his incel "friends", turning gradually more and more angry until he's ready to hurt others with the Lexcorp robots.

What I loved was how it was shown: Slow. Ups and downs. Complex and nuanced. Gill is never villanized, but still punished for his transgressions. He acts horribly, but never unforgivably so. Some characters can't yet (if ever) turn around to his attempts to clean up now, but some (like Clark) show deep humanity to see through the anger and find a scared, angry boy who just didn't know what to do anymore.

It's stuff like that and Clark's journey to save people the right way that blow tame efforts such as "Clark and Lex" out of the water. Here is a thought provoking mental health study that really presents what Superman can be in 2023, what a reboot of "Smallville" probably should be. And in a year of already amazing Superman media (such as "My Adventures With Superman" and the relaunched main book), we can add this to the pile.

I highly recommend this. HIGHLY. This isn't for little kids, this isn't for angsty teens, this is for any Superman fan that has felt alone and misunderstood.

5Art - 5: Lots of graphic novels for young adults are painted and drawn in this style, but I never get tired of it. It's the aesthetic of reading a good book on an autumn evening. Every character is unique and memorable, Superman looks near perfect, and the quiet tones make even the saddest scenes feel warm. A buffet for the eyes and soul.

5Cover Art - 5: Just a perfect encapsulation of Superman.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Except for digital first releases, the month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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