Get out your tissues, folks, because you are about to hear about one of the most heartwarming comics ever. After making quick work of the construction-themed villains known as the Demolition Team, Superman notices this happened right in front of the Children’s Cancer Center of Metropolis. A number of the kids watched in awe as the Man of Steel took out the bad guys. He decides to treat the children to a once in a lifetime adventure with the Justice League.
The day starts with a trip aboard a spaceship made by Green Lantern Hal Jordan. They go up to the Justice League Watchtower where they meet the rest of the team. This includes swimming with Aquaman, running with the Flash, and trying on Wonder Woman’s gauntlets. They then go on a scavenger hunt around the satellite with one of the items proving most difficult (a picture of Batman smiling) and close out the day with a trip to the moon. During the montage of activities, you can see the Flash running around in every panel which was a nice touch.
There’s a near constant look of excitement and wonder on the faces of these poor kids. They’re living with cancer and going through chemotherapy treatments, so their days are filled with bland fluorescent lighting and hospital walls. Here they have the opportunity to do something that few others have ever done. It’s like they almost can’t believe it’s happening.
Artist Barry Kitson perfectly captures that sense of awe amongst the children. This is complemented by the humble qualities of the heroes. They’re used to saving the world and fighting giant monsters. It’s refreshing to take a moment to do a different kind of good by helping some sick kids. We still get a bit of the old-fashioned heroic fisticuffs with the opening scene, but that pales in comparison to the rest of the issue.
Gabriel Eltaeb’s colors are bright and full of life, matching with the excitement on display from the children. Their daily lives may be dreary, but this day is a shining beacon of hope, even when they’re in the darkness of space.
The final scene on the moon is where the tears start flowing. It’s absolutely stunning in its simplicity. Here you have Superman standing with a bunch of kids on the surface of the moon looking out at Earth in the distance. They’re all just marveling at the beauty on display as they finish up a day they will never forget.
This all might sound a little cheesy and yes, it can be at times. That’s not a bad thing, though. I mean, this is a comic about a guy who flies around in his underwear and a cape. Not every story has to build towards a larger, world-ending narrative. Sometimes a stand-alone tale like this is just what you need.
Superman #39 is a reminder of what makes the Man of Steel one of the most important super heroes in pop culture. He’s not dark and broody or tied up in his own world. He wants to make the lives of everyone, young and old, better. Superman didn’t have to take these kids out to space. There are probably a ton of other more pressing matters going on around the world at the time. He did it because it was important and it could make a difference in their lives. It does some real good. It’s only January, and writers Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason have already crafted one of the best single issues of 2018.