Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Collects: SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT issues 1-12
With the massive revamp of the DCU coming in September, I thought that this origin is already written over (SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN, by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank) let me get around to it before it goes off the map completely.
Mark Waid is famous for his love of the Superman franchise, and reading this, it’s obvious that he loves Superman. This one, though it adds a lot of new elements to the popular franchise, doesn’t deviate too much from the source material, wherein it’s beauty lies – preserving continuity while adding to it.
In a move significantly different from SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL 1 (here), we see Kal El rocketed away from Krypton, but don’t see the actual planet and culture here…..so the “sterile, lifeless thing” goes away. We do see the rocket barely reach Earth. Cut to a young Clark seeking to interview an African activist in Ghana. Clark ends up saving the activist from a hail of bullets and gaining his trust. This is the first time the inspiration for Clark Kent to become Superman (other than his parents’ ideals) come to fore in an origin story. The only other time something like this was done was by Chuck Dixon & Graham Nolan in SUPERMAN: ODYSSEY, although I must admit this is done with greater finesse here, with the luxury of more space.
Pa Kent is pretty different, too. The relationship between father & son is shown to be a bit tense, a lot more tense than the standard DCU. Ma Kent is almost the same. However, Clark’s best friend growing up in Smallville is Lex Luthor, who is so much of a genius it isolates him from everyone. He ends up obtaining Kryptonite, and that incident leads to a disaster as the Luthor house gets burnt & Lex’s parents die.
At the Daily Planet, Lois is pretty much the same. Jimmy Olsen is shown to be her stalker, which I found pretty funny.Perry White is much more efficient, he can’t stand the milksop act Clark puts up, and hires him only when he reports Luthor with mud on his face. Another difference is, when Superman appears, the people are actually scared of him. Lex Luthor is a millionaire Astrobiologist. Clark Kent is portrayed as a vegetarian, which led to a lot of flak. The “S” sign is explained as being important to the El family history, as seen in the holograms sent by Jor El with the shuttle. When Luthor eventually attacks, he tries rather to discredit Superman, making the people believe he is responsible; through a complex trick.
The characters on the whole are totally believable. I always thought, why should Superman have it so easy? Thanks to Mark Waid, he showed me that it doesn’t need to. Leinil’s art may seem a bit ugly at first, but it gets better with each issue, the last few issues depicting the Kryptonian/Luthor invasion the best.
My Verdict: If you need to read the origin of the Man of Steel, please make it this one. This is a product highly superior to THE MAN OF STEEL, SECRET ORIGIN & even EARTH ONE (technically doesn’t count as it exists in another universe, which I am up in the air about, before FLASHPOINT comes to a close, I just compare the stories, check out our FLASHPOINT coverage till date here)
My Rating: 10 on 10
Contains all covers, 19.95 US$