Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Superman: Infinite City

(2005) Mike Kennedy and Carlos Meglia, Titan Books, 17.99, hrdbk, 96pp, ISBN 1-84576-073-5

I wasn't too familiar with the writer and artist here, and maybe you're not too, so here's a bit of their bios. Kennedy has been around since 1992, but his first professional comics work was for the Dark Horse title Ghost. He's also written for Star Wars and Aliens vs. Predator and for MTV's animated series Aeon Flux (a brilliant cartoon for lovers of science fiction and surrealism - soon to be a live action film with Charlize Theron), but has spent much of the last 14 years working for video games publishers. Meglia has worked on Star Wars with Kennedy, and on Superman titles, Elektra and others. He's also creator of the award-winning Cybersix and has worked extensively in animation, including Batman. As you might expect, coming from an animation and games background, this graphic novel (ie. not a collection of/from the monthly Superman titles) is a little off the beaten track with few consequences for DC continuity. The artwork should appeal to fans of 2000AD, Kevin O'Neill and Jim Baikie, among others (including tips of the hat to Soroyama and Rojo). It takes the form of highly stylised, cartoonish representations of the characters against detailed, almost photo-realist backgrounds (kind of like the way the animation was done in Titan A.E. if you're familiar with that). The writing is quite crisp and, given the freedoms the plot would allow, not too over the top. You'll get what I mean in a minute...

On the streets of Metropolis a mugger causes mayhem with an extremely powerful futuristic weapon built by Infinte City Industries in California. When Superman (as Clark Kent) decides to check this out with wife Lois Lane, they stumble across a dimensional doorway that takes them to Infinite City. It turns out that before Superman's father Jor-El developed his rocket ship to save his son, he was working on the creation of a new Krypton within a 'pocket universe' in order to transfer the population of the doomed Krypton to it. Alas the end came too soon, but the pocket universe survived. The automatic systems building the environment opened many dimensional gateways and, over time, many sentient species migrated to Infinite City. However, the constant breaches of these openings have placed Infinite City itself at risk, such that many more passages between worlds will cause a collapse of the pocket universe. The different physical laws of that universe allow magic as well as science, including dragon-like creatures, as well as altering Superman's powers, making him somewhat ineffective. It's this part of the background that might have tempted some writers to go over the top, but Kennedy keeps things within reasonable bounds. Needless to say it all works out in the end, and the only consequence for continuity is that Infinite City ends up in the Fortress of Solitude. There's a lot of genuine humour in this book, but it never becomes camp (or, at least, not too camp) and, on the whole, I'd say this is a welcome tale for everybody's favourite boy scout. Recommended.

Tony Chester

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