Superman week, day five – Tales of
Here we are at the end of Superman week. Today is all about a few of my favorite Superman stories. They are all available in your local comic shop (Use the Comic Shop Locator or call them at 1-888-COMIC-BOOK). Once more I am joined by Ibrahim Moustafa on art with Jordan Gibson coloring.
I have four favorite Superman stories, and I find that a lot of people who love Superman list most, if not all of them, as their faves as well. They’re just that good. They are, in no particular order:
UP, UP, AND AWAY by Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns, Pete Woods, and Renato Guedes – Though this story takes place in a strange time as far as continuity goes you can read it knowing exactly one thing. It’s been a year and no one has seen Superman, and that is because he hasn’t had powers for that whole year.
So what happens to a Metropolis and world without a Superman? How does this affect Clark himself? This ends up being a great look at how Superman is far more than a power set, and what it means to try and replace him. It also features the best use of the old “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings” bit in ages.
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely – This story is possibly the gold standard for Superman. It merges, seamlessly, the golden era silliness and modern storytelling to create an epic that truly earns the name. The book also shows one of the deepest understandings of who Superman is ever written.
All-Star has everything – an amazing, pitch perfect take on Lois, Jimmy, and Lex to start but also just … well … everything. From Quitley’s stunning art to Morrison’s note perfect script it is amazing. There is a scene near the end (no spoilers) where, not long after I read it, I got a phone call from D. J. Kirkbride who asked if I had read the scene because, as he put it, he “heard the music” and I realized I had, too. When you have a moment in a comic that actually makes John Williams’ Superman March play in your head you know you have gold.
SECRET IDENTITY by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen – This might be the oddest book on my list, since it isn’t technically about Superman. Except it 100% is. Busiek and Immonen craft a story about a guy who lives in our world, where Superman is a comic and there are no super heroes. His name is Clark Kent, because his parents thought it cute. And then one day he wakes up with Superman’s powers.
Now you see how this could go off the rails quick and it sort of sounds, in that brief, like something cheesy possibly. It isn’t. This is a warm, rich, tale of what Superman means. This is the story of a life written in large metaphor, used expertly. One of my favorite Superman stories and no “real” Superman in sight. Because Superman is more than a single character.
BIRTHRIGHT by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu – An extended origin story for Superman, Birthright focuses on the period between Clark leaving Kansas and becoming the superhero we know. Waid and Yu craft a great look at Clark’s travels and trials as he wanders the globe and learns all about different cultures, including eventually, his own Kryptonian one.
Once we land in Metropolis the story is quick to put forth the idea that dropping an alien into our midst wouldn’t go smooth, but that Superman isn’t the sort of guy who gives up, or doesn’t understand. It’s a great story to show people “This is who Superman is.” and is the other book I always mean when I say that All-Star shows one of the deepest understandings of who Superman is ever written – this is the other one.
And that will do it for Superman week, I think. Thanks for reading, and huge special thanks to Ibrahim and Jordan who made each day this week feel like Christmas. And, of course, the biggest thanks of all to Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster – words can not express how much we owe them.