published by DC Comics
. Superman:True Brit is written by Kim "Howard" Johnson with help from Monty Python
alumnus John Cleese
. The artists involved are John Byrne
and Mark Farmer
. Superman:True Brit was published in 2004.
Peter Sellers. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Monty Python. Rowan Atkinson. The Young Ones. Benny Hill. These are just a few of the names that may come to mind when one thinks of British comedy and it is by no means a comprehensive list. Britain has a rich heritage of humor, from dry wit to over the top sketch comedy. So when DC Comics annouced the publication of a graphic novel from their alternate history line called Elseworlds penned with the help of John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame that would tell the story of a Superman that grew up in Britain, fans of both comics and British humor were looking forward to a masterpiece. What they got instead was a 96 page, hard-bound comic that, though it does raise a smile, is not overall a winning effort.
The story begins with Kal-El's dramatic escape from his doomed planet in an alternate universe in which his father sends him to the British Empire. There he is discovered by the Clarks who decide to raise him as their own son. Colin, as the Clarks name him, grows into a geeky boy, who like many teenagers is a bit awkward. There are a couple of strained jokes about Colin's inability to control some of his abilities - his heat vision, rather like in the series Smallville, is passed off as being somewhat equivalent to some of the sexual issues young males have. Eventually, Colin is sent off to college where he begins to study journalism, relying on super-hypnotism to appear normal, especially after his parents declare that he should always abide by their family motto - W.W.T.N.T. or What Would The Neighbors Think. Eventually, young Colin runs into Louisa Layne-Ferret, the British cousin to Lois Lane. Louisa is cold and aloof toward Colin, but he pines for her.
Colin decides to go out for cricket and ends up, during a slip of concentration to appear normal, in impaling the opposing bowler with a cricket bat. He is later taken to task by the editor to the Daily Smear Peregrine Whyte-Badger for not being cut-throat enough to capitalize on his closeness to the story. Colin eventually takes a job at the paper and becomes one of its top reporters by using his powers to get the scoop on a starlet. Eventually Colin decides to adopt the costumed identity of Superman with a costume very similar to his classic costume except instead of a solid blue background on the chest, this costume had the look of the British flag. Soon, Superman becomes a media sensation all his own.
The story contains many elements that may not translate to non-British audiences, as Superman deals with tabloids, the rail system, the socialized medical system, and the BBC. There is a running joke about Colin's parents moving without leaving him a forwarding address and a play on words when the impaled bowler later returns calling himself the "Bat-man." The whole story ends up coming across rather forced, as if someone had a good idea and no one could figure out how to make that "good idea" into a meaningful story.