Friday, November 13, 2009

Examiner Bio Review: Superman Secret OriginApp

Apparently EVERYONE'S high school photos suck.
Apparently EVERYONE'S high school photos suck.
Gary Frank

Superman: Secret Origin is an interesting bit of business.

Technically speaking, it has no intrinsic value as far adding anything to the Superman mythos, aside from incorporating Lex Luthor awkwardly into Clark Kent's childhood (a'la the Smallville television show). All Secret Origin really does is streamline Clark's childhood post-(modern) Crisis.

That said, it's a pretty solid book. Geoff Johns had made no secret of his love for Superman and the Legion of Superheroes. That love pays off, because it is very clear that in writing this series-- in fulfilling his boyhood fantasies-- Johns is having the time of his life. This simple story about a boy growing up to embrace his destiny is loads of fun.

In some ways, perhaps the title is a bit of a misnomer. This is not the origin of Superman. This is the story of Clark Kent, a boy who want to play football with his best friend Pete, and kiss Lana, the girl next door. This is the story of a boy who wants to fit in somewhere--- anywhere. And so he ends up running off to the future with a trio of aliens just like him (sort of).

Johns' simple, enjoyable storytelling has really charmed me with this series. In many ways I like reading about this young, barely post-pubescent Clark much more than the self-assured Man of Steel he becomes. This Clark Kent is relatable, and infinitely more interesting.

Also, Gary Frank's art is tremendous. At times, I have felt that his artwork was over-rated, especially since I often preferred his previous, less-sketchy art style (see Supergirl, Incredible Hulk runs). But Frank seems to have a similar love for Superman as Johns. His work on this series and Action Comics before this has been phenomenal.

My one complaint as mentioned before is the shoe-horning of Lex Luthor into earlier continuity. I understand why it was done on the TV series. They needed a villain. But I am uncertain how this benefits the comics. The attempt to make the new changes fit feels distracting. However, Johns seems to have a plan, so for the time being, the minor annoyance is acceptable. Hopefully this gamble will pay off in the long run.

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