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Superman: Birthright Paperback – October 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Superman's origins have been imagined and reimagined over the years. Here is a new take on the character's roots. Superman: Birthright retells the early chapters of Superman's story, from escape as an infant from the doomed planet Krypton to arrival as reporter Clark Kent at the Daily Planet and his first public exploits. Writer Waid puts his own spin on the legend, rethinking nearly every aspect of the venerable character while remaining respectful of his established history. Waid wisely integrates ideas from the popular TV series smallville but doesn't slavishly follow its innovations; for instance, a young Lex Luthor befriends Clark in high school, but unlike in the series, his sinister nature is clear even then. Waid similarly tweaks the rest of the well-known cast, from Lois Lane and Clark's other Planet colleagues to Ma and Pa Kent. Ironically, though he updates the character, Waid evokes Superman's pre-World War II incarnation, whom his Depression-reared creators kept engaged in righting society's ills. Leinil Francis Yu's stylized artwork is expressively dynamic to the point of caricature, but this larger-than-life visual approach befits the retelling of a myth. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Birthright has everything a Superman fan could want...Mark Waid was born to write Superman."—BrokenFrontier

"...a rich retelling and revamping of Superman's origin."—The Fourth Rail
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401202527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401202521
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brendan L. Agnew on September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
"People know now, it stands for courage. It stands for hope. It stands for SUPERMAN."

What makes the Man of Tomorrow take his stand? What goes through a young boy's mind that causes him to don tights and a cape and a big red "S" and stand up to fight for truth, justice, and the American way? These are questions that get asked when the real question is, "Why should we care about a man who cannot be hurt?"

These are the questions that Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu set out to answer in Superman: Birthright.

This book was the big effort from DC to bring the Man of Steel into the 21st century, and it was the job of the writer, artist, and the rest of the collaborators to accomplish this while keeping true to the spirit of the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. A new view of a familiar origin was needed, a new perspective on characters that had been loved for over six decades, and Superman Birthright accomplishes all that and more.

We first see Superman as Kal El, infant son of Jor El and Lara during Krypton's last dying hours. The familiar elements are there - his parents will send him to earth where his Kryptonian biology will gain incredible powers from the radiation of Earth's yellow sun, but before he goes, he is wrapped in the Flag of Krypton and given a recordings of its history. This is where Waid and Yu really start to dig into the mythology and explore some new motivations. The "S" symbol is not just the El family crest, not just a sign on a blanket sent with the last son of Krypton to his new home - it is a reminder of his heritage, a symbol of his people and what they stood for, and something that Clark Kent will always carry with him.
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I am a big fan of the Superman world but it was only during this summer that I shelled out money to buy Superman products after seeing the latest movie. Two dvds of the Reeves movies snowballed into seven comic books. This was one of the seven. Out of all of them this one really stood out. I just love the first few pages. It is a given that it talks about his parents and how they sent him to earth in a pod. How they drew and colored and placed the panels and used them as part of the title and credit page and then a time transition....wow. Its like a openning title sequence for film... so beautiful. I'm like YES!!! THIS IS WHY I LOVE COMIC BOOKS! This story talks about a part of Clark's life that is rarely if never addressed. Life after Smallvile but pre Daily Planet. I like it for its youthful hip energy and the addressing of problems in a different country. Lois Lane is a big reason I follow this franchise. Seeing the many incarnations of her is watching the evolution of the independent modern woman. Some depictions leave more to be desired than others. The way they introduced her was refreshing. Her intelligence and her courage has a slightly new flavor. I'd like to see a follow up of this story arc. I recomend everyone pick up a copy and take a good look. I don't regret buying this one. I enjoy looking at it over and over.
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Format: Paperback
I read all of the bad reviews before picking up this trade, believing that it would pale in comparison to the John Byrne modern-age revamp of the character back in the 80s. I was almost tempted to tell the clerk at the store as she was ringing up the trade that I had changed my mind on buying it, thinking it might be a waste of $20. I sat down for a couple hours and read it front ot back, which is something I usually don't do for something 12 (comic) issues in length, and I found this instantly became my definitive origin for the Man of Steel, despite my love for Jeph Loeb's interpretation in his "Superman: For All Seasons." He wasn't instantly accepted by society as a savior, instead having to prove himself the hard way, against the machinations of a (for once) truly menacing Lex Luthor. This was the first trade in a while that I felt compelled to pick up again to flip through on the same day I read it. I'm generally a Marvel fan, but in these handful of instances such as with "Birthright" and "Batman: Year One" where DC publishes a gem that shines above the rest, at least within my opinion.
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Superman is one of the most scrutinized comic book heroes, as everyone has their own ideal image of what the Man of Steel ought to be. As a result, when even the most minute detail of Superman is changed or reworked, whatever issue or collection this was done in is labeled with negativity. Sometimes it is small, other times, not so much. For the life of me, I cannot see how Birthright could, in any way, offend a Superman fan, long-time or new (unless having Clark becoming a vegetarian is sacrilege to you).

The writing is outstanding. Mark Waid, author of my favorite comic Kingdom Come, has a firm grasp on the character of Superman. Additionally, he can portray the whole cast of Superman characters, from Lois to Lex, with wit, energy, and engaging dialogue. The story is very linear, despite it literally crossing continents. The chapters are not broken up by issue covers, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the story flows without stopping. On the other hand, I find these natural breaks allow for material to be digested. This is minor, and doesn't reflect the quality of writing, but I felt is important enough to make note of.

The plot is extraordinary, and respects the history of Superman while also creating something new for the reader to enjoy. There is humor, tragedy, and adventure in Birthright, exposing the reader to several flavors of Superman stories. The origin of Lex Luthor is especially enjoyable, as it both humanizes and demonizes the megalomaniac. This is an origin story, but it's refreshing and deep. Superman's origin was given for years as just one page containing all the essentials. It takes skill to expand on this and make it interesting. Waid does this with ease.

The art is great, though it took some getting used to.
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