Most likely not intended as a comedic book, “Flashpoint: Project Superman” #2 is easily the funniest comic released this week. In its efforts to be a meaningful story about a child Kal-El as he’s tortured and tested by the US government, it becomes a dark farce where each successive scene is funnier than the last.
The first indication of the humor in the comic is Gene Ha’s art. Many jokes have been made online about ’emo Superman’ with Kal-El as a skinny, pale, mopey-looking teenager. Here, he’s younger and is an easily startled/upset big-headed child. Panel after panel of him with wide eyes and a gaping maw as he flees from a stiff breeze are tough to take seriously; they’re too damn funny. He’s become a twitchy, easily startled broad embodiment of physical comedy with Ha never missing a chance for the character to look bug-eyed and ready to cry at the drop of a hat.
Some scenes are obviously played for comedy. Lois Lane constantly sneaking into the secret military base to visit her father to his bewilderment, popping up here with a gift for his birthday, is an amusing moment. Lex Luthor and his father visiting the base has some dark, Ellis-esque humor with Luthor’s father mentioning Lex’s habit of trying to kill him in his sleep. Or, when Krypto goes berserk, tossing his son to the dog as a distraction so he can flee before there’s an allusion to “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”
Otherwise, the comic seems like it’s meant to be a straight forward story of a sad little alien boy trapped by the US government to be experimented on with eventual military use. Last issue’s Subject Zero plays a role, helping to guide Kal-El behind the scenes, leading to a fairly unsurprising showdown that’s cliched. It has to be funny, because, if you try to take it seriously, so much of this comic is a collection of cliches from animated films for children.
When you add in the comparison to the regular DC Universe, the humor becomes more apparent. Instead of a tragic turn for the worse, what happens here seems more like one of those issues of “What If…?” where the goal was to explore the ‘darker’ side of the Marvel Universe and wound up, many times, delivering over the top comedies. It may not be intended, but “Flashpoint: Project Superman” #2 delivered more laughs than any comic this week.