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It’s a Bird…

28 May

Today, we take a break from the ‘chronological’ DCU & delve into a daringly different iconic treatment of Superman.
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Writer: Steven T. Seagle

Artist: Teddy Kristiansen

Sat down to arranging my trades & singles of…, the “World’s Greatest Superhero” in proper order…….and came a lot of different iconic interpretations of the World’s first superhero….THE KENTS, a western history of the ancestors of the Kent family by John Ostrander, Timothy Truman & Tom Mandrake, SECRET IDENTITY, the story of a young man from the normal world who just happens to be named Clark Kent by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen, BIRTHRIGHT, a re-interpretation of the origin of Superman by Mark Waid & Leinil Francis Yu, and this little ditty called IT’S A BIRD by Steven T. Seagle & Teddy Kristiansen.

Jokes apart, when he was created, way back in 1938, by two Jewish Immigrants, he wasn’t the all powerful, oh so tough character he is built up to be nowadays. He couldn’t fly, just leap really high. He couldn’t fly faster than light, sound or time (Note: Even today, what Superman’s powers are is really open to interpretation by the writer of the current story)

But what makes him tick? How can a man be so goody good all the time? These aren’t just questions in the mind of the popular public, but also in one of the writers of the title, Steven T. Seagle (Not to be confused with the movie star)

When departing writer Joe Allen (meant to be “Joe Kelly”, one of the stalwarts who brought about the new look of Superman) gives Steven T. Seagle the opportunity of writing the Man Of Steel in one of his flaship titles. Unforeseen by any of us, Steven refuses as he cannot identify with the character. This is where the story actually begins.

What follows is a romp through the life of writer Steven as he reminisces what makes him have unpleasant memories of the ‘S’ on Superman’s shirt, struggles relationships with his girlfriend, brother and father, and thinks about what would actually make Superman a hero. At one point in time, he even belts the erstwhile writer of Superman over a disagreement. How he eventually comes to terms with his life and Superman is what forms the crux of this story.

The specific things that I liked here are Steven Seagle’s memoirs…..he seems to be so honest, so unashamed, it actually hurts. Steven’s father has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease (also called Huntington’s chorea or St. Vitus’ dance) and the chances of it being passed down to him and even further make him wrestle with his life. Being from the medical profession myself, I appreciate how easily the writer explains the disease so that the readers are not left bewildered. The art is wonderfully simplistic. Teddy makes the use of simple images to convey the bleak aspects therein. The charm here lies in knowing where to stop….the minimalist pallette employed actually suits the story. Just check out this image as a quick sample.

Writer Steven shows considerable depth here, in contrast to his actual Superman run with artist Scott McDaniel. Steven wrote this book based on how he felt when actually offered the title. Also, most of Steven’s other work is pretty funny, like AMERICAN VIRGIN; in contrast this book has pretty serious overtones.

On top of everything, this is a VERTIGO book. I love the fact that only the idea of Superman is the topic of a mature readers imprint. Just shows how deep you can go with comics, generally called “kiddie books”. If that’s what you can do with Superman, think of how lengthy volumes written simply on the ideas behind THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK & UNCANNY X-MEN can be.

Highly recommended.

Rating: 10 out of 10 points

Published as a graphic novel, 17.95 US$