REVIEW: “Superman: Up, Up And Away!” graphic novel

Superman: Up, Up And Away! graphic novel (DC Comics, 2006 compilation)
Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artists: Pete Woods & Renato Guedes

Colorists: Brad Anderson & Renato Guedes
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Nick J. Napolitano, and Rob Leigh
Cover art: Terry and Rachel Dodson, and Alex Sinclair (Action Comics #840)

Warning: This review contains minor plot spoilers.

Before I start my review of the Superman: Up, Up And Away! graphic novel, I want to point out that I loved the Superman Returns movie. I also hate when comic fans moan about Hollywood versions of Superman not living up to their precious comic books. I say these things only to put what I’m about to say next about Up, Up And Away! into the proper context.

This story should have been Superman Returns. Along with a fun nod or two to the film, there are many thematic and plot similarities.

For those reasons, I think it’s fair to compare this story arc from Superman #650-653 and Action Comics #837-840 with Superman Returns. On just about every level, except for its cumbersome title, Up, Up And Away! presents its story in superior ways to the movie.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m such a fan of the Superman movies that I couldn’t help but picture this graphic novel as a film. And it could easily work as one. Sure, there would need to be some tweaks here and there. A lot of the non-Superman portions of the DC Universe would need to be dropped. A different explanation for his loss of powers would be necessary. But, all in all, most of the core story could remain intact.

Though I’m against comic fan whiners, I’ve never understood why Hollywood productions of Superman haven’t simply hired Superman comic writers to co-write the films. They are the ultimate experts on the character, after all.

Yes, I know comic books are a different art form. But, no matter the medium, a good story is a good story. Pair Kurt Busiek or Geoff Johns up with Michael Dougherty and see what kind of script they could make for Bryan Singer’s next Superman movie.

Unfortunately, Up, Up And Away! could never work now as a movie since Superman Returns has already flown and this story would just look like a rehash.

I can’t help but be left thinking about what might have been when it comes to Superman Returns, though. Will it change my opinion of the movie? I guess I’ll find out on November 28.

As someone returning to the universe of Superman comics, I found the style of art in Up, Up And Away! to be very different from what I was expecting and it took me a little while to adjust. After doing so, I found that I actually enjoyed it. There were a number of instances of problems with drawing Superman’s muscles but other than that, I found it a refreshing change from the typical approach.

All eight covers are included in full size. They are the most disappointing aspect of this graphic novel, as I found all of them to be quite horrible. The graphic novel’s cover art (from Action Comics #840) in particular makes Superman look like a big doof due to the expression on his poorly drawn face.

Don’t let the cover art or the title turn you away, though, Superman: Up, Up And Away! is definitely worth your time.

Story/Writing: 10 (out of 10)
Art: 8
Cover Art: 4
Overall Experience: 9
Recommended: Yes