9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2010
I love John Cleese, he's a master comedian and his works with the Pythons, Fawlty Towers and A Fish called Wanda are true timeless masterpieces. One thing hard t miss, anyway, is his constant (as in EVERY thing he says or writes) derogatory statements about his own country. We (the English) are masters at self-deprecating humour, we just love to sarcastically emphasize our own deficiencies, but ultimately we know where to stop, before it becomes offensive. Cleese doesn't, and it's a fact: all his works are chock-full of harsh opinions towards the English while he emphatizes the greatness of all American things. I may sound like a biased and easily offended bloke, but just listen to some of his quotes in AFCW, or you can read this book. There's not a single decent English human being in the whole story: Clark is raised in a boring village, his parents are selfish and afraid of showing their son to the neighbors, the typical Brit college is full of awful people, London is basically only the paradigm of horrible journalism, Lois Lane is a harsh, evil girl while tadaa, America is just behind the corner and Clark decides to fly over there because it's so much a better place to live in.
John Cleese doesn't love England, and that's ok, a lot of celebrities are known for their harsh opinion towards their birthplaces, but I was hoping he would at least show a bit of love for anything, ANYTHING English among the endless mocking, offending and just plain insulting.
The book itself is not a bad read: much like Millar's Red Son, it retells Superman's origins as if he were born in a different country. Cleese ruined it all, at least for me, with his rambling. Perhaps a non-English reader will find this book very funny...as a Englishman who knows that every country has its ups and downs, I cannot be entertained by such offensive drivel
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2015
Well I've just finished reading this and felt compelled to add my two cents. I am struggling at this moment to think of a more ineptly executed comic than this. I found it going cheap and thought what the hell, Knight and Squire was good (the British Batman and Robin if you were wondering). Where Knight and Squire was keenly observed, frequently hilarious and even a little moving at times, this is a mess and just plain insulting.
I am not patriotic in any way but even I felt that it was just mean spirited. As a nation we've always had a self depricating sense of humour but this is something else. If you're going to write a satire of British culture you have to do a bit better than lame puns about tea and cricket. Of which there are plenty here. This was published in 2004 but it's references and sterotypes are about forty years out of date. It has "ordinary British people" shovelling coal into their boilers for christ's sake. At one point the coal miners are put out of work (I won't say why because of spoilers). "Ah", you might say, "surely a sharp satire on the legacy of Thatcherism!". You would be giving the writers entirely too much credit. It's merely the unfunny punchline to a poor slapstick level joke, delivered with all the skill of a five year old attempting brain surgery. In addition to this every British person in the book is utterly vile and duplicitous. The only nice people being Colin Clark (Superman) and Lois Lane, who pops over from America. Britain is portrayed as a nasty, grimey, backwards, isolated little island populated by buck toothed, self regarding cretins.
The book tries to ape the style of the Beano/Dandy and that's not a bad idea. However the jokes are so lacking in wit that they may as well have just populated the book with fart jokes. The main thrust of the plot revolves around the tabloid press and their constant smearing of celebrities. But this is played so over the top that it loses all power as a satirical statement. The whole thing is lacking in depth, emotion and charm. The other satirical line the comic takes is Britain's eagerness to conform. While I'd say that this is an issue in society, it's certainly not unique to Britain. Definitely not more so than America. Britain actually has pretty long history of protest and rebellion that may not be getting much press in recent years, what with all the flag waving and royal weddings/births/daily bodily functions and ooh look they're breathing oxygen, they're so down to earth, but this fact still contradicts the writer's view of our national psyche.
And of course it needs mentioning that one of the writing credits goes to John Cleese, for whom I have lost a certain degree of respect. While the man is a (former?) master of absurd or surreal humour, one has to ask, is a privately educated, upper middle class gent who's only ever experienced the upper eschelon of British life really the right man to be satirising modern Britain? For that matter, is Kim "Howard" Johnson, an American Monty Python fanzine writer, the right man for the job? Based on this book, they have no clue what British life is really like for the majority and, ironically, have gained most of their views from tabloid editorials moaning about how "Britain is going to the dogs".
If I had to pick a positive I'd say the art is fairly good as an amalgamation of US superhero stylings crossed with the cartoony style of the Beano. But there's nothing that really stands out. Apart from the costume. And that's because it's eye bleedingly horrible. I mean Superman may like to wave the American flag every now and then but he doesn't wear the thing. Why would he do that in Britain? Haven't we always been a tad less overt in our patriotism than America? I know I haven't had to salute any flags in a long time, I don't know about anyone else.
The bottom line is, if the concept of a British version of American superheroes intrigues you, don't buy this. It's rubbish. Buy Knight and Squire instead.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2011
There's not much to be said about this, except don't bother. I loved RedSon, which imagines Superman if he'd arrived in the USSR, so I thought that this could be as clever as that. Unfortunately, it's not funny, clever, interesting, engaging or exciting. It's a like a Beano parody of a superhero comic. I keep all my books, but I gave this away. Buy RedSon instead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2013
Much like the story Red Son where instead of kansas superman crashes in the USSR,here he crashes on a farm outside weston super mare.
Unfortunately its played entirely for laughs,and is not funny at all.
Superman's parents bizarrely keep moving house on him?
The characters are nasty ,petty ,small minded ,grubby little creatures
and our hero's main enemy appears to be the gutter press.
Words fail me when I try to convey just how stupid ,shallow and weird this nasty little comic is
and they even managed to rope in john cleese ,(Must need the money for all that alimony)
he continues his streak of not having done anything of note for 30 years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2012
Origin stories, particularly alternate origin stories are popular fare. The Superman story Red Son sees him grow up in Russia. True Brit has him fall to earth in Britain and raised as Colin Kent. But this is not the Britain any of its natives would recognise but the cosy, quaint, repressed Britain that comes from the American mind. John Cleese is credited as one of the creators and you can see the slapstick of Python and Fawlty Towers in there.
There isn't much of a story here and there fun comes from spotting how the American characters translate into a farcical British setting. Disturbingly the whole work seems to be a thinly veiled attack on the newspaper industry. Very thinly veiled at times. It seems like someone had an axe to grind and wasn't clever about doing it.
The art is perfectly serviceable and harks back to the style of popular British comics such as the Beano and Whizzer & Chips but with infinitely more colour. It is a nice idea and interesting to see how the familiar is relocated with some appalling puns thrown in. It is a Thumbs Up but barely.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2005
First, the good points: It's got lovely artwork. 1980's fan favourite (and the man entrusted with the late 80's reboot of the Superman mythos) John Byrne inked over by long-time Alan Davis collaborator Mark Farmer, famed for his 'clean' style. It looks great.
The story is good as well - an opportunity to parody the S** and the rest of the British tabloid press, with Colin (Superman) Clark's newspaper editor boss clearly modelled on a certain fictional Torquay hotelier. There are some lovely twists on the long-familiar Superman stories, including some lovely cartoony moments (how does a teenage Clark stop himself from looking in the girls' changing rooms with X Ray vision?; what if young Clark switched on heat vision whilst looking at a 'hot' girl? etc) Indeed, Clark's parents are more caricatures than 'real' people to keep in with the 'just for laughs' style.
Where I have an issue is with the use of John Cleese as a co-author of the book. I suspect that he's had very little to do with this. True, there are numerous in-jokes hidden away for the fans covering both Python and Fawlty Towers, but would Cleese really have allowed a conversation between Clark and his earthly dad to have allowed the use of the term 'sidewalk' instead of 'pavement'? (Just how British is the writing team?) This has all the hallmarks of one of those Chris Claremont X-Men stories where Britain consists of the Houses of Parliament, Beefeaters, and little else. Austin Powers would feel at home here.
Overall, disposable fun, but I'm glad I borrowed this from the library - it's written as much with one eye on pandering to the preconceptions of the US market as it is on giving us Brits 'our own' Superman story. For a quality alternative in a non-comedy vein, I'd recommend Batman: The Scottish Connection by the all-Scots team of Grant & Quitely. They'd even included Rosslyn Chapel years before the Da Vinci code got there...
on 24 October 2014
Humour, it's a tricky art aint it and Christ does this book prove it, yes that's right, instead of a drama along the lines of Red Son, with its irony and intricate parallels, DC's attempt at relocating the Superman mythology to Britain is a gag book -- great. OK, so that might not be so bad, we can use humour to satirise can't we, it can be incisive and revealing, it doesn't have to be a succession of irksome pratfalls? Er -- no, not today it can't, the problem with the humour in True Brit, is not that it's just not funny, there's no point to it, it's not even witty, it's as completely artless as the boozy fart contest you held with your flatmates, on the night none of you pulled at the nightclub. If the book were purely an exercise in the surreal that might be forgiveable, what makes it so painful is the clumsy attempts at satire. Attempts so riven by stereotype that there's cause to wonder, when exactly were any of those responsible in this country. The byline on Amazon says John Cleese, he should sue for slander because on the copy I read, he's listed as a contributor, with Kim "Howard" Johnson being given major -- credit.
In truth, it's not really a one star book but it falls a long way short of two and the resentment it instilled in me is so powerful it would prevent my rounding up the rating to two stars.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2007
I can live with the cliché's, I can live with the patronising ex pat, 'ollywood cockernee type characterisation's, I can even forgive John Byrne (once a legend in this business), but what I cannot forgive is that this is very poor and worst of all NOT FUNNY! It is simply short of the mark and way off target and desperately tries to capture a long dead zeitgeist that probably only ever existed in the minds of Americans watching "The Avengers" re-runs on TV as kids and in the long since dried up comedy brain of John Cleese who clearly spends way to much time in La La Land and out of England to recognise this for the poor excuse of a parody that it fails to be...shame
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2012
... Because if its handled as well as this one we will possibly be at war within the hour. I got this due to my love of Superman Red Son and Jesus on a bike what a mistake that was. While Red Son was a detailed look into the differences of culture combined with power and painted both sides to be as faulty as the other, True Brit paints the UK with as many Tropes and and lazy stereotypes as it can in a vague hope to... I have no idea, its pointless, unfunny, badly written and its art direction seems to be trying to ape the British comics of the Dandy and other kids comics of yore, without realizing that they do not suit the american comic book style and come off looking poor. Superman True Brit is a tour de force of borderline Xenophobic laziness and a view of Britain that was old in Mary Poppins.
Oh and...Spoiler warning, the happy ending is that he gets to move to the USA.
I kid you not.
on 23 November 2014
Bit s***, read red son instead