Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Leinil Yu and Gerry Alanguilan
Publisher: DC Comics
What DC Said:
Faced with the knowledge of what Lex Luthor has planned for Metropolis, Clark Kent is ready to throw in the towel and head back to Smallville. But is there a greater threat from Krypton that only Superman can prevent?
What I Think:
The beauty of Birthright is, without a doubt, that it is set in a world without heroes. Superman is allowed to be the 1st of his kind, the example that all other heroes will model themselves on. I have always liked the idea of Superman being the 1st that sets the standard. It also makes him unique, the problem with the mainstream DC universe is often Superman becomes just another hero. In Birthright Mark Waid gives us a fresh approach to the origin of the man of steel and he does it with class. He remembers the past and also gives us his own take on Superman. Forget all the rubbish about whether this story is the official origin and enjoy it, I am.
In this issue we have some wonderful action scenes, some nice dialogue and a kick ass final page. Waid gives us a Superman who stands for what he believes, but one who is also human in his doubts and fears. Luthor is better here than he has ever been, his character finally given the layers he deserved Ė here he is more than just a rich man in a suit or a crazed scientist, he is an emotionally disturbed man, those ego outweighs his want to do better for the human race. In many scenes throughout this series you get the impression that all Luthor needed was a friend, but his ego never allowed it - his own intellect made him evil, if evil is a word you can use to describe him, well actually his disregard for human life makes him evil beyond a doubt. This issue has blockbuster movie all over it, looking at the series as a whole I think itís fair to say Waid is writing the movie he would want to see. Also great telephone gag on the 1st page.
What lets this issue down is the art. I like the art, but Superman should be better than this. Itís not even that the art is awful, it just should be better. Some of it is beautiful, the last two pages show the problem. The second from last page is excellent, Clark Kent caught between running and fighting, Leinil F Yu does a wonderful spread of Clark floating in mid air, cape in one hand and his glasses in the other (the colouring and sunlight enveloping him are super!). But on the other page (spoiler) we have Superman flying down to fight, this page is not so good, Supermanís face is great, the rest of him is not. And itís like this throughout the book, some great Clark moments and action spreads and then poorly drawn characters. Itís a real shame, because some of it is so good.
In The End:
If you havenít been following the story up to now wait for the trade, I think it read well as one story. This is a solid issue apart from a few art moments that lets it down. The final page was great, but the art make it less of impact than it could have been. A new series that springs from this would be great, make it Ultimate Superman and have Waid write it. He could be free to do early Superman stories and also revisit and re-imagine some of the greatest Superman stories his way.
What did you think of this book?
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