Top positive review
The best version of Superman's origin ever put to page
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2017
Though I've long since been a fan of the action/adventure/superhero genre, I was never the heaviest of comic book readers--mainly because with storylines carrying on for over 70 years, it was near impossible to know where to start. But thanks to "ComicPOP"--a YouTube channel that analyzes (and jokes about) various famous storylines from comic history, I've slowly been venturing into the books more. One trade paperback in particular that got their high recommendation was this one, and though I like Superman as much as the next person, he was never one of my favorite superheroes (in comparison to others). I always found him (again, in comparison to others) kind of bland (or worse, boring). But ComicPOP hasn't steered me wrong so far, so I gave this book a shot.
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.