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‘Superman: The Harvests of Youth’ OGN (review)

Written and Illustrated by Sina Grace
Published by DC Comics

 

Sina Grace is one of those talents in comics that I have never really followed. Grace is obviously a very talented writer and artist but, for some reason, nothing really grabbed me before this.

But one look at the cover of this graphic novel and I was totally hooked. The artwork is super appealing and this really is a fresh take on an age old character that was sorely needed.

This book takes Clark Kent and places him in the present day as a teenager. That means that he has modern day issues and foibles. It surprisingly works extremely well and doesn’t feel forced.

It also feels like Grace is a fan of the Smallville television series as a lot of the book feels strangely derived from that series. Which is fine by me, I loved the series!

We get some old favorites as far as characters go. Pete Ross and Lana Lang show up. Weirdly, so does Chloe Sullivan (though the character in this book bears no similarities to actress Allison Mack, thankfully). We are also introduced to newer characters such as Gilbert Stockwell and Amy Buenaventura.

Amy’s brother Alvin has committed suicide. We see that scene skillfully handled by Grace. There is a lot of compassion that is present with this scene. Clark goes to go look ant the scene of the crime after his senses alert him that something terrible has happened. He immediately wishes that he didn’t. It is affecting. It also leads to a really somber tone for the book.

That somber tone echoes in the writing and the art. Clark befriends Amy. This leads Amy to become Clark’s first love interest. Yes, their relationship even proceeds that of Lana Lang. Grace handles all of these subject matters with an assured and gentle touch that never feels forced.

The subject of emotional pain resonates throughout the book. We see Clark trying to develop into being a hero, but unsure of how to given these very human issues. His parents try to help him, but they aren’t sure where to go in this instance. Things keep piling up for Clark and these are all issues that he cannot punch his way through.

When traumatic instances happen, we reach out for human connection. That is exactly what Clark does here with Amy. It is sweet and beautiful and a bit tragic to watch it happen. Grace doesn’t have a lot of the usual “comic book action” in a lot of the book, yet the human interaction is completely fascinating to witness.

Lex Luthor eventually shows up from the Excelsior Academy for a debate with Lana Lang. His father, Lionel Luthor, is making moves into Smallville. He is trying to bring his company into the town. We get to see Clark and Lex meet for the first time. It is sort of a weak moment in the book as it wasn’t very strong. This meeting, however, eventually leads to some of the action that happens later in the book.

Gilbert Stockwell eventually has an accident that doesn’t allow him to continue doing sports. His life looks to be ruined because of it. Eventually, Gilbert gives in and commits some evil acts because of it. Grace does a great job setting this up. We get to see his motivations for the acts that he commits and they are understandable and relatable. It makes them real and altogether human.

Clark and Amy’s relationship starts to really develop. As it does, Clark begins to notice the differences between him and Amy. He starts to see the differences between him and the average human. The cracks begin to form in all of his relationships. He starts to self reflect on his life. He has to come to a sort of peace with himself and those around him.

Otherwise, all might actually be lost for him.

There is a lot of pathos that happens as a result of all of this.

Sina Grace had created a book for the modern audience with this book. The characters and their dialogue feel real and thought out. It is a good script, if a bit (only a little) heavy handed at times. It is an easy read and it is incredibly emotional. The artwork is perfect and works hand in hand with the script. I wouldn’t mind reading a few more adventures with this world that Grace has developed here. It is a very strong and effective piece.

RATING: A-

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