After four issues, the direction of this series is starting to become clear: it’s not an exploration of the Superman archetype, but instead it’s an exploration of what happens when Superman isn’t the noble icon we thought he was.
Sure, it’s not really Superman, it’s a costumed, god-like being called Alpha One, and the resemblance between this series and the similarly-themed “Irredeemable,” by Mark Waid and Peter Krause, is deeper than it first seemed, but after three issues establishing the setting and the characters, writers Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne unleash a major plot twist in issue #4.
(And, for the record, since comparisons between “Irredeemable” and “The Mighty” are inevitable, this one has the superior artist in Peter Snejbjerg, a man whose bold compositional choices and sweet-looking characters offer the perfect complement to the darkly ironic story beginning to develop.)
This issue opens with Alpha One coming to the rescue of some men and women caught in an industrial fire. In a sequence reminiscent of an early scene from Richard Lester’s “Superman III,” Alpha One uses a massive chunk of ice to help put out the blaze. But right from the start, we realize that something is different about thus supposedly “super”-man. His extraordinary senses indicate that some of the survivors are trapped inside the building, but he doesn’t save them. He lets them die — perhaps he wouldn’t have had time to rescue them, or perhaps he chose not to, it’s presented ambiguously — and saves a young woman trapped inside an elevator instead.
It’s a scene that seems to indicate the failings of this Ubermensch, but since he seems disturbed by the loss of life — his hand quakes afterward — we can still accept him in the role of the hero. After all, though he’s been presented as socially awkward and a bit arrogant in previous issues, he’s still a Superman-type. How bad could be be?
By the end of this issue, we find out.
Or maybe we don’t find out, and maybe there’s a logical explanation for what he does in the final scene of this issue.
Either way, I’m certainly more intrigued than ever.
“The Mighty” #4 proves that this little series isn’t going to be a watered-down Superman Elseworlds series, and as long as Tomasi, Champagne, and Snejbjerg keep taking this comic in unexpected directions, this is a comic worth following.