02 October 2005

Superman: Birthright

Premise: Is it truly possible for an alien to find a home on Earth?

Superman's origin story has been told and retold numerous times over the course of his 67-year existence. Just about every man, woman, or child in the western world knows that he was "rocketed to earth from a dying planet, where he gained powers far beyond that of mortal man." If they didn't read his origin in comic books, they saw it in one of they movies, TV shows, or cartoons that he has starred in. There's already been two other major graphic novels that retold his origin in the last 20 years: John Byrne's The Man of Steel and Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Superman For All Seasons. Is another retelling really necessary?

If that retelling happens to be Superman: Birthright, then the answer is yes.

Writer Mark Waid distills the best elements from various sources to bring the Man of Tomorrow into the 21st century. He takes the sense of grandeur of the first film, the angst of Smallville, the populism of Siegel & Schuster's original comics, the fast pace of the cartoons, and the witty banter of Lois & Clark, and blends them together in a way that honors the past but looks towards the future.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the astounding pencil work by Leinil Francis Yu. He is equally good at rendering big action sequences and quiet dramatic moments. His attention to detail is also quite impressive, particularly the subtle differences between the ways he draws both Superman and Clark Kent.

All in all, this book encapsulates everything that makes Superman great. I highly recommend it.

Recommended for: Fans of Smallville, Jusitice League, or Superfriends; anyone who thinks Superman is outdated; anyone who wonders how a pair of eyeglasses could possibly fool Clark Kent's co-workers.

Not Recommended for: people who are completely indifferent to Superman.

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