Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day review

Remember Goodnight Batcave, that Batman-inspired loving riff on the beloved children’s book Goodnight Moon?  Well the idiots (as they call themselves) over at MAD Magazine are back with a brand new parody starring another of DC’s classic heroes: Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day.

This time, the book is based off of Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Originally published in 1972, Alexander… follows a young boy named, you guessed it, Alexander as he just has the worst day.  He gets chewing gum in his hair.  He finds out he has a cavity.  He doesn’t find a prize in his cereal box, guys.  Maybe Alexander’s right in thinking that life would be better if he just moved to Australia…

Unlike Goodnight Moon, Alexander… is much more biting and wry.  It would be easy to dismiss it as weary or even cynical, but the message is a good one: everybody has bad days every now and then, yet there will always be good days too.  The book has remained incredibly popular in children’s literature ever since being published, and it spawned two sequels, an animated TV special, and a full-length film adaptation.

As if it wasn’t obvious, the plot of Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day is… pretty much the same: Superman has a bad day that, while described with different adjectives, is still pretty awful.  That’s about it, but just like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or Harry and Lloyd’s quest in Dumb and Dumber, the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

Clark Kent, who is

actually Superman
, performs that universal ritual when his alarm goes off one morning: he hits snooze.  Instead of getting an extra nineish minutes to not actually sleep very well, he breaks his phone, and so begins his awful, awful day.  From there, he accidentally heat visions a shampoo bottle, causing it to explode, and to make matters worse, he has to spend an entire train ride listening to two kids prattle on about how much cooler Batman and the Flash are than Superman.  Wouldn’t you know it, Doomsday attacks the city, which would be bad enough, except Clark accidentally puts his Superman costume on inside out so now he looks like Bizarro.

Dude can’t catch a break, is what I’m saying.

Even among friends, Superman seems to be the butt of the joke.  Perry yells at him and makes him cover a flower show while Lois and Jimmy get to cover cool stuff, like the President’s visit and a rad motorcycle race.  Even his fellow heroes in the Justice League seem to be against him, as he’s scheduled for monitor duty and can’t go out and be a superhero.

Needless to say, there are lots of jokes about Batman doing cooler things than Superman.  Just in case you were wondering why I’m reviewing this, because yes, Batman is in it.

Like the rest of the League, he’s mostly a background presence.  None of his exploits play our directly, but rather on monitor screens and the like, so he’s less an active character and more a catalyst.  Still, that’s what makes Superman’s awful day so funny and somewhat sympathetic: we experience it right along with him.

Dave Croatto and Tom Richmond write and illustrate the book, respectively, just as they did Goodnight Batcave.  I was rather impressed with that, as the stylistic differences between the two stories are pretty numerous yet they’re able to channel the spirit of each book as they spoof them.  Richmond in particular shows that he’s flexible in his style, going from the broad cartooning of Goodnight Batcave to a near-perfect imitation of Ray Cruz’s work on Alexander…  From the character designs to limited use of color, Richmond nails the style and tone.

He also peppers the story with background jokes, which is always a plus.

I want that poster.

Of the two books, I’d actually recommend this to kids just ahead of Goodnight Batcave.  Neither book is truly inappropriate, but the latter has a little bit racier visual style at points, so I’ll give the edge to Superman.  Still, despite a 12+ rating they’re both perfectly fine.

The book retails for $14.99, yet Amazon has it for around eleven bucks for a physical copy and $9.99 through Comixology.  Par for the course and kind of steep just the same, though there is a little more reading material this time around.  Of the two options, I’d opt for the physical copy to add to your library of children’s books.

Overall: A spot-on spoof of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  I’ve been impressed with these spoofs from MAD, both in how enjoyable they are and how well they emulate the styles of the source material.  Croatto and Richmond make Superman’s bad day truly miserable indeed, and even if as a fan of the Man of Steel it’s still fun to read about.

SCORE: 8/10