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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"...a rich retelling and revamping of Superman's origin."—The Fourth Rail --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00BPFV5DU
- Publisher : DC (March 5, 2013)
- Publication date : March 5, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 108526 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Not enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Not Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 297 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #481,927 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I'm so glad I did, for this is one of the best depictions of Superman that I've ever come across, and it's made me realize that the Man of Steel is NOT boring, when written right.
This whopping, 12-part story seeks to retell the origin of Superman; keeping his basic roots the same, but updating other details for the modern day. After a tear-jerking opening in which Jor-El rockets his only son to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton, we immediately cut to an already grown up Clark Kent as he uses his freelance reporting job to travel around the globe--learning all he can while also trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world. After being inspired by a village in Africa and subsequently saving its people from a corrupt politician, Clark decides to take up the image of his Kryptonian ancestors and use his powers to help people. With some help from Ma and Pa Kent, he forges both his costume and his "mild mannered" alter ego, and lands a reporting job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. There, he makes his debut as Superman, and instantly runs afoul of business tycoon, Lex Luthor, who has a more personal connection to Clark than anyone realizes. When Luthor makes it his mission to discredit Superman and turn the world against him, Clark must find a way to save his reputation and the legacy of the planet he left behind...and become the hero the world needs.
I can count on my hands the number of times my jaw has physically dropped while reading something, and I can add this trade paperback to that list. This book can serve as the perfect introduction to new comic readers, and the story and its characters are so strong that it dearly makes me wish that THIS were the plot to the "Man of Steel" movie instead. Everything about this version of the origin and how it plays out is perfect from beginning to end. It stays true to Superman's roots, while giving him a modern spin that makes sense. It's not as whimsical as the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve movie, but also doesn't get too grim and gritty, and still has plenty of humorous moments, and a heart that drives the story. We're along for the ride with Clark as he tries to discover who he is and why he's here, and in doing so, he learns to embrace his alien heritage while following the morals the Kents (and the Earth) taught him. It's Clark who decides who he is, rather than letting it be decided for him, and his friends and family help him along the way, either directly or indirectly. Everything has a logical explanation, from how his costume is made, to why he refuses to wear a mask, to how he puts together his "mild mannered reporter" persona, to why his friends (and foes) act the way they do.
The supporting cast is just as interesting. The Kents are still alive and play an active role in his life (with the added bonus that Martha's now a UFO chaser--it's funny, but makes sense, considering where her son comes from). Lois is still a brave, hard-nosed reporter, who almost never needs saving, but from the moment we meet her, we know that underneath her steel and grit is a heart just as compassionate as Clark's, who wants to do the right thing.
As for Lex, he's a multi-dimensional villain that's surprisingly sympathetic at times (at least in the beginning). He winds up being a perfect balance between the criminal businessman and the mad scientist he used to be portrayed as years ago. Here, he's an astrobiologist who was once friends with Clark back when they were in high school. Growing up as a super genius left him outcasted and isolated from everyone else, and in his feverish pursuit to contact aliens, he's not only driven into megalomania, but winds up, (ironically), being the one to help Clark discover where he came from....and in a weird way, leave his birth parents a parting message in an ending that nearly left me in tears.
All n' all, this is, hands down, the best version of Superman's origin I've ever heard. They manage to take a grand, epic tale, and humanize it and make Clark relatable. He gets angry, he gets scared, he stumbles and makes mistakes, and has to find his place in a world that fears anything different. But he powers on through and learns to embrace what makes him special. A MUST read, for both fans of Superman, and comics, period.
The writing is outstanding. Mark Waid, author of my favorite comic Kingdom Come, has a firm grasp on the character of Superman. Additionally, he can portray the whole cast of Superman characters, from Lois to Lex, with wit, energy, and engaging dialogue. The story is very linear, despite it literally crossing continents. The chapters are not broken up by issue covers, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the story flows without stopping. On the other hand, I find these natural breaks allow for material to be digested. This is minor, and doesn't reflect the quality of writing, but I felt is important enough to make note of.
The plot is extraordinary, and respects the history of Superman while also creating something new for the reader to enjoy. There is humor, tragedy, and adventure in Birthright, exposing the reader to several flavors of Superman stories. The origin of Lex Luthor is especially enjoyable, as it both humanizes and demonizes the megalomaniac. This is an origin story, but it's refreshing and deep. Superman's origin was given for years as just one page containing all the essentials. It takes skill to expand on this and make it interesting. Waid does this with ease.
The art is great, though it took some getting used to. It's not really comparable to any other art I am familiar with in terms of style. Yu uses very angular shapes and figures, but rest assured, they are not abstract Picasso renderings. The cover chosen for this collection does not reflect the best art from Yu, so if it made you hesitate, don't worry. Yu's style really works for Superman, especially his wide, open shots that are frequently used to define this interpretation of Superman. At times, his facial expressions appear a little too angular to work, but this is infrequent. It's an interesting dichotomy, as certain aspects appear very realistic, while other panels are pure comic-book abstracts. Yu is something unique, and I'm glad this title had his talent.
Overall, this is an easy recommendation. It's not the most thought-provoking work on Superman, but it is one of his greatest appearances. Don't confuse my previous remarks as saying Birthright is vanilla, because it's not. This is a clean, classic Superman that is placed in brutal real-world environments with both fantastic and all-too real villains. If you are just getting into reading Superman, I can think of no better place than Birthright to start with. It's undeniably great, and captures the true essence of Superman.
Birthright is not the story of Clark Kent as a teenager, as you might expect from reading the description. The story starts our when Kal-El is 25, breaking into the reporting game and desperately searching for a purpose in life. From their, Waid reconstructs all the major elements of the superman mythos, from his parents, his disguise as Clark Kent, and his relationship to his main antagonist, Lex Luthor.
Other than Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid may be the best comics writer alive when it comes to stories like this; hopeful, and light-hearted with just enough edge to keep them from being cheesy. This volume has tons of great jokes and jaw-dropping moments to make it worthy of being one of Superman's all time great stories.
Top reviews from other countries
So, in looking for an alternative I actually rediscovered my love for a Superhero that I loved in my childhood...Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, it IS wonderful stuff!
That's the short version. The longer version that will now follow will read like a firebrand preacher babbling on about the Saviour, etc. because reading this book and being an atheist, I had the same reaction and feelings that I imagine religious people do when they hear stories about Jesus or whoever their deity of choice is - that uplifting inspiration that inexplicably chokes you up and makes your heart beat stronger. Yeah, it's Superman I'm talking about here guys, which might make some of you roll your eyes but he's more real to me than any world religious figure.
I don't want to scare any readers off though - if you're not a devoted Superman fan, this book is hugely accessible and you're going to have no trouble reading it. Hell, it's basically written so that anyone wanting to read a Superman book can pick it up without knowing a damn thing about the guy and still getting a lot out of it! But if you love Superman - LOVE Superman - then this book will take pride of place on your bookshelves, to be taken down many times over the years and read again and again.
Basically this is the Superman story we all know - the exodus from Krypton, landing in Kansas where the alien baby is adopted by childless farming couple Jonathan and Martha Kent, becoming Clark, realising his powers, moving to Metropolis, and becoming Superman. It's the classic origin - but it goes deeper than that. Waid doesn't simply go through the familiar motions with this character but explains WHY Kal/Clark becomes Superman.
If you're reading this after watching Man of Steel, there's a lot here that'll seem familiar to you - Jonathan telling Clark to hide his powers, that he'll scare people if they know who he really is. There's even some lines here that were used in the film like "you're the answer to `are we alone in the universe?'". However, unlike Man of Steel, Superman isn't a murderous lunatic flinging his enemies into crowded city blocks with no thought to human life.
Clark leaves high school and goes travelling from then on, spending the next few years traversing the globe, slowly earning credits for his degree in journalism while filing reports wherever he goes. He winds up in an African country where he's reporting on a tribe that is looking for equal representation in the government run by another tribe, and without getting into particulars, learns why he must put his all of his natural abilities to use, that he can no longer hide, and that one man can make a difference - all this from an ordinary man fighting an insurmountable system. It's a breathtaking and emotional opening to the book that's perfectly suited to the story.
From there we see the persona of Clark being developed to hide Kal's true identity as Superman, we see a beautiful representation of Clark and Jonathan's relationship in a highly charged emotional scene, Lois is superbly realised and has some fantastic zingers, Superman's introduction in Metropolis is handled perfectly while Lex Luthor also takes a turn in the spotlight as Waid shows us why Lex became the way he did. He also writes the tragic friendship between Clark and Lex brilliantly. Great Caesar's Ghost, there's a lot to talk about! So I'll stop there because otherwise this'll go on forever, and just say this:
Reading Superman: Birthright doesn't just familiarise you with the talking points of Superman's origins - Waid writes the character in such a way that you understand him totally. You know why he thinks the way he does, you know why he must be Superman, why he does what he does. It's an origin story that goes beyond treading familiar territory and revitalises the character for a new generation while paying homage to the many creators, writers and artists that worked on the character, going right back to the teenagers who created the Man of Tomorrow, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This is the old Superman and the new Superman in one flawless representation.
Leinil Yu's art is great as always, Waid's writing is perfect - there's no other word for it, he's leaving nothing in the tank on this one; Birthright, like I said at the start, is a masterpiece. It's a truly brilliant comic with no mis-steps, a real emotional core, and a deep and profound understanding and respect of the character that is rarely seen with Superman.
You'll believe a man can fly - I sure do.
The text is enjoyable, lifted expertly by some bold art and excellent colouring.
"Birthright" gives Superman the much needed reboot to fit the 21st century, and proves that he is still a hero who is relevant in today's society.
The reasoning behind his actions, his relationships with the people around him, and his feud against the evil/brilliant Lex Luthor are all well written and believable thanks to the amazing talents of Mark Waid.
If your new to Superman this is a great place to start, and even though "Man of Steel" was very, very loosely based on this, please don't let that put you off.