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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Superman Family Adventures volume 1

Writer: Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
This is a kids comic centred around the Superman family.  We have ol' Supes himself, Supergirl, Superboy, Lois Lane, Krypto the superdog, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Streaky the supercat, Ma and Pa Kent, and all the villains.  Each story is between 1 and 12 pages and a whole variety of events are covered: Lex Luthor tries to take over metropolis with a robot army; Bizarro (the anti Superman) visits for ice cream; the superpets get a new member; Chief Perry White wants his coffee; Lois nearly works out Clark's secret.

What's good about it?
The repetitive start is good for kids.  The stories are humorous and the construction, plotting and jokes are told directly for kids.  There are several references to the Christopher Reeve movies which will delight older fans, but there aren't any grown up jokes.  The mix of one page and longer stories works really well to keep you involved in the book.  The stories are not related to each other - they are individual standalone plots.
The book is written and drawn with love for the characters.  Baltazar and Franco just want to have fun and they write for kids, they don't write down to them.  It's not patronising and it's not sentimental.  It's funny and sometimes nonsensical.  If you are familiar with, and like, Garfield comics it's got a similar approach.  Garfield is more cynical than these characters, but the way in which the creators just have fun with their characters and don't try to be adult, or cool or edgy, is the same.

There's a maze game at the back for kids to complete.

What's bad about it?
This volume is more about Superman than the rest of the super family, which is a shame because I'd like to see more of Superboy and Supergirl.  However, I guess they make more appearances in later volumes.  There certainly wasn't any room in this book to shoehorn them into more stories and it's better that way, rather than trying to fit everything in and having the story suffer.

What's the art like?
It's cute as a button!  Baltazar has a very cartoony style and there is a lot of visual humour in his drawings.  The story is told through the art as much as through the dialogue (probably more so through the art, now I come to think of it).  The lettering gives a lot of emphasis to the emotions of the story, by bolding certain words or by having jagged edges on some speech bubbles.  This provides a visual clue that something exciting is going to happen and when you see it coming up you mentally prepare yourself for the extra drama.  The colours are bright and the characters are very expressive.  It makes it a very easy read that you don't have to try for - you can just relax into it and enjoy the fun.
More information
I plan on giving this to my 2 and a half year old niece.  She's clearly a few years off being able to read it herself but I think she'll like the pictures.  I also think this would be good for kids aged between 5 and 8. They can read it or be read to.
Price: £10.99
ISBN: 140124050X
There is a second volume of this.  I will be getting it!

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