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RETRO COMIC REVIEW: FTN reviews Superman: True Brit

April 25th, 2013 by Ciaran Flanagan Comments

John Cleese (writer).

John Byrne & Mark Farmer (art)

Titan Books Ltd

John Cleese has made some rum Career choices in the last twenty years or so. A string of expensive divorce settlements have left him a little strapped for cash and so his work has become more diverse than in the past. Hence we have the kind of sort of nearly logical collaboration between ex-Python and ex-pat John Byrne.

DC has a comics imprint called “Elseworlds” which allows them to imagine their characters in places and situations that the constraints of continuity wouldn’t usually allow. It’s a fun little line that has allowed Batman to take on Jack the Ripper, Superman to have a boxing match with Muhammad Ali, and Green Lantern to face the aliens out of Aliens. Superman: True Brit imagines a world where the

Infant Kal El, last son of the doomed planet Krypton, crash lands not in the wheat fields of Kansas, but instead in rural Weston-Super-Mare! He then grows up to enjoy all the trappings of a life in jolly old Blighty. So it’s fun and japes as Superman attends a public school and plays cricket. It’s fun and japes as Superman drinks tea and tries to fix the NHS. It’s fun and japes as Superman is scandalized in the tabloids. It’s fun and japes as Superman: True Brit is crap.

This was probably the best joke in the book, seriously.

John Byrne was once a upon a time considered to be a visionary artist with near-legendary runs on Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight and the series which redefined Superman for a new generation of comics fans, Man of Steel. His once clean, clearly-defined artwork has become scratchy and cluttered at some point, almost as if he’s trying to emulate Jack Kirby but getting it ever-so-slightly wrong. There are two main problems at the core of Superman: True Brit. It’s not just that it’s bad– although it most certainly is bad– it’s more that it fails so spectacularly to live up to its creative pedigree. Additionally it would be very easy to jump to the conclusion that the creators had never even been to England let alone come from there. Every pathetic sub-Austin Powers British stereotype gag is trotted out and milked for all it’s worth. There are issues of The Beano with more genuine laughs than this bilge. Much more humor would be expected from the writer/artist of the hilarious Sensational She Hulk and the man who wrote the DEAD PARROT SKETCH.

If we ever needed a final piece of evidence that the coin of John Cleese’s comedic genius had been well and truly spent (presumably on yet another divorce), we now have the proverbial smoking gun. Avoid like the plague. Or the Great Fire Of London. Or the Spanish Inquisition.

0 out of 5 nerds


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Ciaran Flangan is a mid 90's sketch comedy also ran, failing stand up comedian , podcaster , and a full time educator. He is deeply uncomfortable speaking about himself in the third person. You can hear him review comics and cover the Irish comics scene on Irelands NUMBER 4 comics podcast The 2dcast at his blog or at