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Superman: Birthright Paperback – October 1, 2005
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"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
About the Author
Mark Waid bought his first comic at age four and has never once since entertained the notion of not buying comics. In his early twenties, granted only the writing skills one absorbs by living life as a copious reader, Waid began freelance reporting for and eventually editing comic-book trade publications such as Amazing Heroes. This led to an editorial tenure at DC Comics. Waid left DC’s staff in 1989 to pursue a full-time freelance career. Since then, he has written stories for every major comics publisher, including Marvel Comics, Archie Comics (where he served briefly as their cover-gag editor), Dark Horse Comics and DC. In years past, he has written every major character from Superman to Batman to Spider-Man. Currently, Waid lives in California, anxiously awaiting the day his parents will finally break down and confess to him that he is, in fact, not their actual child but rather an adopted orphan from the doomed planet Krypton.
Top customer reviews
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I'm so glad I did, for this is one of the best depictions of Superman that I've ever come across, and it's made me realize that the Man of Steel is NOT boring, when written right.
This whopping, 12-part story seeks to retell the origin of Superman; keeping his basic roots the same, but updating other details for the modern day. After a tear-jerking opening in which Jor-El rockets his only son to Earth from the doomed planet Krypton, we immediately cut to an already grown up Clark Kent as he uses his freelance reporting job to travel around the globe--learning all he can while also trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world. After being inspired by a village in Africa and subsequently saving its people from a corrupt politician, Clark decides to take up the image of his Kryptonian ancestors and use his powers to help people. With some help from Ma and Pa Kent, he forges both his costume and his "mild mannered" alter ego, and lands a reporting job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. There, he makes his debut as Superman, and instantly runs afoul of business tycoon, Lex Luthor, who has a more personal connection to Clark than anyone realizes. When Luthor makes it his mission to discredit Superman and turn the world against him, Clark must find a way to save his reputation and the legacy of the planet he left behind...and become the hero the world needs.
I can count on my hands the number of times my jaw has physically dropped while reading something, and I can add this trade paperback to that list. This book can serve as the perfect introduction to new comic readers, and the story and its characters are so strong that it dearly makes me wish that THIS were the plot to the "Man of Steel" movie instead. Everything about this version of the origin and how it plays out is perfect from beginning to end. It stays true to Superman's roots, while giving him a modern spin that makes sense. It's not as whimsical as the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve movie, but also doesn't get too grim and gritty, and still has plenty of humorous moments, and a heart that drives the story. We're along for the ride with Clark as he tries to discover who he is and why he's here, and in doing so, he learns to embrace his alien heritage while following the morals the Kents (and the Earth) taught him. It's Clark who decides who he is, rather than letting it be decided for him, and his friends and family help him along the way, either directly or indirectly. Everything has a logical explanation, from how his costume is made, to why he refuses to wear a mask, to how he puts together his "mild mannered reporter" persona, to why his friends (and foes) act the way they do.
The supporting cast is just as interesting. The Kents are still alive and play an active role in his life (with the added bonus that Martha's now a UFO chaser--it's funny, but makes sense, considering where her son comes from). Lois is still a brave, hard-nosed reporter, who almost never needs saving, but from the moment we meet her, we know that underneath her steel and grit is a heart just as compassionate as Clark's, who wants to do the right thing.
As for Lex, he's a multi-dimensional villain that's surprisingly sympathetic at times (at least in the beginning). He winds up being a perfect balance between the criminal businessman and the mad scientist he used to be portrayed as years ago. Here, he's an astrobiologist who was once friends with Clark back when they were in high school. Growing up as a super genius left him outcasted and isolated from everyone else, and in his feverish pursuit to contact aliens, he's not only driven into megalomania, but winds up, (ironically), being the one to help Clark discover where he came from....and in a weird way, leave his birth parents a parting message in an ending that nearly left me in tears.
All n' all, this is, hands down, the best version of Superman's origin I've ever heard. They manage to take a grand, epic tale, and humanize it and make Clark relatable. He gets angry, he gets scared, he stumbles and makes mistakes, and has to find his place in a world that fears anything different. But he powers on through and learns to embrace what makes him special. A MUST read, for both fans of Superman, and comics, period.
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. It's not really comparable to any other art I am familiar with in terms of style. Yu uses very angular shapes and figures, but rest assured, they are not abstract Picasso renderings. The cover chosen for this collection does not reflect the best art from Yu, so if it made you hesitate, don't worry. Yu's style really works for Superman, especially his wide, open shots that are frequently used to define this interpretation of Superman. At times, his facial expressions appear a little too angular to work, but this is infrequent. It's an interesting dichotomy, as certain aspects appear very realistic, while other panels are pure comic-book abstracts. Yu is something unique, and I'm glad this title had his talent.
Overall, this is an easy recommendation. It's not the most thought-provoking work on Superman, but it is one of his greatest appearances. Don't confuse my previous remarks as saying Birthright is vanilla, because it's not. This is a clean, classic Superman that is placed in brutal real-world environments with both fantastic and all-too real villains. If you are just getting into reading Superman, I can think of no better place than Birthright to start with. It's undeniably great, and captures the true essence of Superman.
Birthright is not the story of Clark Kent as a teenager, as you might expect from reading the description. The story starts our when Kal-El is 25, breaking into the reporting game and desperately searching for a purpose in life. From their, Waid reconstructs all the major elements of the superman mythos, from his parents, his disguise as Clark Kent, and his relationship to his main antagonist, Lex Luthor.
Other than Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid may be the best comics writer alive when it comes to stories like this; hopeful, and light-hearted with just enough edge to keep them from being cheesy. This volume has tons of great jokes and jaw-dropping moments to make it worthy of being one of Superman's all time great stories.
This comic is perfect for people who love the Welling and Cavill takes on Superman, as well as the people who appreciate really early Golden Age Superman. Clark has a phenomenal social conscience, and his work as a reporter is just as important as his work as Superman.
Additionally, if you were confused by the way Lex Luthor was portrayed in BVS, you can clearly see the comics basis of that version of the character here. Desperate, hurt, and interminably lonely, the teenager Clark knew in Smallville in this story could quite easily have grown into the man who tried to kill him in BVS.
Overall, I love Birthright, and I really need to read some of Waid's other Superman work!
Most recent customer reviews
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