Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. Even Superman. But maybe he can do something about it.
Writer/artist Stephen Sonneveld has released Superman vs. Cancer, a 70-page webcomic where the Man of Steel goes to any length to finally stop this pervasive and all too common disease.
Obviously this is not an official DC Comics release. Described as “for portfolio purposes only,” Superman vs. Cancer is clearly not pretending to be canon, but its use of not only Superman’s mythology and the larger DC Universe contributes to a story that is emotionally resonant and affecting, even disarming.
Superman has his hands full fighting a female Bizarro when he discovers their fight exposed a S.T.A.R. Labs colleague to radiation, which gives her cancer. The mix of super-heroics interspersed with his attempts to help is part of what makes the story so successful.
Sonneveld’s art style seems simple at first but it’s at times wonderfully reminiscent of Joe Shuster and ends up being a great vehicle in displaying Superman’s wide-eyed naiveté and pure-hearted efforts.
Even so, this isn’t a “very special episode”; it’s still a superhero story and even allows for some levity and humor. From small touches, like Superman leaving a cheerful picture of himself in Lex Luthor’s cell, to the Justice League’s goofing around before Superman shows up.
The plotting is cleverly layered to push events through to a bittersweet conclusion. While there are messages buried throughout, they never overpower the characters, providing a really satisfying take on these iconic heroes.
Stephen Sonneveld’s Superman vs. Cancer is now available through his Tumblr (which also has great coverage of the long out-of-print Brought to Light by Alan Moore, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joyce Brabner and Thomas Yeates). He is the author of the children’s book Pandora’s Lunchbox, has written for MAD Magazine, and is an award-winning screenwriter. A compilation of his pulp/mystery comic strip Greye of Scotland Yard, which features some of the most delightfully absurdist character designs since Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men, is now available on comiXology.