Like “Batman: Universe,” “Superman: Up in the Sky” was originally serialized in comics that were originally exclusively sold to Walmart. If you were to ask me which of the two was better, I’d say this one. Hands down. That’s because while the “Batman” title felt more like an excuse for Bendis to play around with the stuff from the DCU that he found interesting, and have Nick Derington make it look good, the creators here actually do something interesting with the format. It doesn’t start off looking that way as writer Tom King and artist Andy Kubert’s story feels like they’re putting a simple moral quandary to the Man of Steel: A little girl in Metropolis has been kidnapped by aliens. Does Superman forsake his duty to Earth and go after the girl, or does he stay home to take care of everyone else who might need to be saved? I don’t think I need to tell you what his decision is.
From that humble start, we get a great “Superman” story. Or rather, eleven of them as King and Kubert manage the tricky task of telling a complete story involving the character as he moves through the cosmos. Sometimes they can be a bit ponderous or silly, as King’s work can be. Occasionally there’s some unfortunate stiffness to Kubert’s art. Most of the time, the two click and we get a host of stories that range from Superman enduring a boxing match for information, suffering through a “Brazil”-esque round of alien bureaucracy, experiencing an unexpected team-up with Sgt. Rock, seeing the time he raced the Flash recounted from an unfamiliar perspective, or making a Devil’s bargain with Darkseid. It’s an anthology of stories that all come together to tell one story, and it’s pretty great! Enough to make me want to see the creators team up to work on the character again, or at the very least to see King do more with Luthor after his brief but pitch-perfect work with the character here.