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Superman: Birthright #4

Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2003
By: Cody Dolan



Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Leinil F. Yu (p), Gerry Alanguilan (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Waid’s “ultimatizing” of Superman continues in this issue with Clark Kent’s arrival in the big city. He’s decided that the best place to help people would be the biggest city in America and the best way to find people to help would be to work for the newspaper/web site that gets information the fastest. Those are both great ideas, so it’s no surprise Waid didn’t alter them one bit. What is surprising is DC’s continued insistence on making their Super-titles resemble yet another TV show. Did they not realize that this is a bad idea after they changed the books for “Lois & Clark” only to see the show fail? Am I the only one bothered by this?

This issue revolves around Clark’s first visit to the Daily Planet, and Waid sets up a wonderful atmosphere at the paper/web site. The opening scenes make me think that he’s worked in a similar environment as everything just read true to life (but I’ve never worked in that kind of place, so I could be way off). Lois Lane is so well written that I can see a new generation of comic fans falling in love with her the way all us older geeks fell in love with Margot Kidder while Jimmy Olsen remains the same guy so many people are fond of.

Unfortunately, Clark doesn’t get the same treatment. The character is so inconsistent that I’m not sure if Waid is trying to show him growing into the role of klutzy, mousy, mild mannered Clark Kent or if Waid himself isn’t sure what to do with him. Those who don’t believe me take a look at his interview with Perry White. I’m not sure which Clark we’re supposed to believe, and could someone tell me why in the hell he knocked over that can of pencils? When he’s forced into action as Superman, the character wildly alternates between “Please don’t let me look stupid” and “Bring it on.” All I could say was, huh? And what was up with those last two pages? Clark’s going to look past the missile-toting helicopters and get distracted by a familiar face?

The cover promises an homage to Superman: the Movie, and Yu doesn’t disappoint. There is a two-page spread within the pages of this book that actually made me say “Wow” out loud. I don’t know if an artist has ever made me do that and I’ve been reading comics for a total of 10 years now. Unfortunately after those pages there’s a moment of unadulterated confusion that ruined the effect for me. I have no idea how Superman saved those people in the park because I have no idea what he’s holding in the page it happens on. It looks like he’s holding part of a helicopter, but where did he get it? This isn’t the only gap in action in the book, and it’s too jarring to go unmentioned.

While I was disappointed with this issue, I can say I still enjoyed it. Sadly, this is probably the best Superman book being published and it would be foolish for any fans of the character to miss out.



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