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Old September 24 2009, 04:52 PM   #1
ElScoob
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Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

In a way, putting a spoiler warning on this seems a little silly, because frankly nothing happens in this issue that would be a gigantic surprise to anyone with more than the most rudimentary knowledge of Superman.

That said, I enjoyed it immensely.

Geoff Johns has the tone down perfectly. This is a Superman story. This is Superman's origin story.

The story has played out so many times in so many ways that it's become as comforting and familiar as any other childhood fairy-tale. It's modern mythology, plain and simple. And Johns does a fine job retelling that well-known myth. An argument can be made that Johns isn't bringing anything really new to the table here. There are elements and allusions to so many incarnations of the Superman mythos. What Johns has done is a bang-up job in weaving all those disparate elements together into one coherent tapestry. I readily (and gleefully) recognized elements from different comics interpretations of Superman's origins--Golden Age, Silver Age, Man Of Steel, Birthright--as well as those from other media--Superman: The Movie, Superman: The Animated Series, Smallville. The way Johns has brought it all together reminds me of the periodic retellings of Superman's origins in the Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, each of which absorbed new wrinkles added by creators since the last retelling. It puts me in mind of the vast Weisinger-era mythology that always fascinated me so as a child. This is Superman storytelling in the most traditional vein, incorporating elements from different spins on the character into a coherent whole just as the comics of the past gladly absorbed elements from, say, the radio series or the Fleischer animated shorts. Johns does clever work in tying disparate elements together. For instance, we have from the old comics the idea that Jonathan Kent fashioned the lenses in Clark's glasses from Kryptonian glass salvaged from the rocketship, plus from Smallville the idea that Clark's heat vision is triggered by feelings of--er--amorous arousal. Johns links these ideas deftly, with the idea that Jonathan had Clark wear the glasses (which, being of Kryptonian material, block his heat vision) in order to avoid accidentally starting fires. For once, the glasses are not explicitly an attempt at a disguise--though of course, they quickly begin to serve that purpose as well.

Apart from the Kents, we are introduced to Jor-El and Lara as well as the familiar Smallville faces: Lana, Pete Ross, Lex Luthor... old Ben Hubbard gets a mention, too, and Pete--whose arm is broken after a football mishap with Clark--even sports a cast which includes a signature from a 'Chloe S.'

Johns moves the story along nicely--not much decompressed storytelling here. We get glimpses of the development of Clark's powers, his feelings of alienation, his affection for Lana; we get Jonathan and Martha Kent's deep and abiding parental love, wisdom, and guidance. We get a glance at misunderstood, troubled boy genius Lex Luthor. We get Kryptonite, we get Jor-El and Lara's recorded explanation of Clark's heritage (complete with some Richard Donner-insipired monologues). And, interestingly enough--on the last page we get teenage Clark in costume (along with his vow never to wear the ridiculous get-up) and a promise that the next chapter features Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. That's right: it's been hinted at very strongly since Infinite Crisis, but now we officially see Superboy--Superman when he was a boy--brought back into DC continuity.

I want to mention Gary Frank's art as well. I've become a big fan of his Superman work. He brings a nice touch of Curt Swan into the mix, and his characters are distinct and consistently rendered--his teenage Clark looks believably like a younger version of his Chris Reeve-inspired adult Superman. His Jor-El and Lara are quite striking, too, calling Marlon Brando and Susannah York to mind without being direct likenesses.

So yeah, I really enjoyed this issue, and I hope Johns and Frank keep up the momentum they've built up here. It's clearly a labor of love for them, and that carries across to make an enjoyable read.

Good stuff.

--g
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Old September 24 2009, 05:23 PM   #2
The Mirrorball Man
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Birthright worked on all levels for me, I'm not sure I'm interested in this.
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Old September 24 2009, 05:32 PM   #3
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

I might check this out when it's collected, but how many times do they need to rehash his origin? It's getting silly.

Treading the same ground, over and over and over ...

Joe, and over ...
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Old September 25 2009, 01:42 AM   #4
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

I love Geoff Johns Superman but I have zero interest in the umpteenth retelling of Superman's origin with minor cosmetic changes. Also, Gary Frank draws the ugliest women I've ever seen outside of Frank Quietly and his Superman looks just like Christopher Reeve (this being a BAD thing).
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Old September 25 2009, 01:58 AM   #5
Nerys Myk
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Shatmandu wrote: View Post
I might check this out when it's collected, but how many times do they need to rehash his origin? It's getting silly.

Treading the same ground, over and over and over ...

Joe, and over ...
In theory to introduce new readers to his background. Of course thats when there were new readers.

Mike, Old reader.
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Old September 25 2009, 03:18 AM   #6
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

This is how myths stay alive -- by being retold for each new generation. It was the main way stories were kept alive before there was widespread literacy. And even with the ability to preserve older versions of stories, retelling stories is far too ancient and deeply ingrained a human habit to abandon. Superman is a modern myth, and so his origin will be retold many, many more times to come, just as the myths of Hercules and Jason and King Arthur and all the other heroes have been retold countless times over the ages. A story that's worth telling is worth retelling.
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Old September 25 2009, 04:07 AM   #7
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Every five years, though?
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Old September 25 2009, 04:16 AM   #8
Tomato
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

I love the superman orgin and could read and re read it over again.

I'll wait to the trades definitely but I'll put this on my pick up list.
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Old September 25 2009, 05:02 AM   #9
Nerys Myk
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Mr Light wrote: View Post
Every five years, though?
Birthright doesn't count. ( it sucked)

I think the rule is every ten years. (give or take)
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Old September 25 2009, 06:19 AM   #10
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Mr Light wrote: View Post
Every five years, though?
Birthright doesn't count. ( it sucked)
Yep; I believe that's the only reason this is being done again so soon. Even DC recognizes that Birthright was garbage.
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Old September 25 2009, 06:33 AM   #11
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

TemporalFlux wrote: View Post
Yep; I believe that's the only reason this is being done again so soon. Even DC recognizes that Birthright was garbage.
There was nothing wrong with Birthright. DC probably felt it wasn't connected enough to the sacred Silver Age, and hey, a new Superman origin is always a good opportunity to sell books. That's why it exists.
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Old September 25 2009, 08:10 AM   #12
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

Birthright had potential to be good...I liked Lex and Clark being friends when they were young, and Clark traveling around the world using his powers. I liked the portrayal of Jonathon and Martha in Birthright. What bothered me about Birthright was the ending of it. Didn't like the attack on Metropolis. The artwork was also too grainy and hard edged for me as well. I'm looking forward to buying Secret Origins when the Hardcover comes out next spring or summer. I just recently finished Green Lantern Secret Origins and if this is anything like that was...we should be in for a treat. I'm looking forward to seeing the Legion.
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Old September 25 2009, 08:15 AM   #13
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

There was a LOT wrong with Birthright!

At first it was intended to just be another retelling of the origin. Not to be the official in continuity origin. But that changed at some point in the middle of its writing.

Mark Waid wanted Luthor to be a straight up Mad Scientist. DC wanted him to be a business man to more smoothly fit into the present DC Universe in which Lex has had a big effect outside of the Superman books. A splash page of Clark's Smallville years in the first issue was cut from all reprints. The whole thing had a patch work, designed by committee feel.

On top of which it suffered by being far too long for the amount of story it had to tell. This new series is only 6 issues which is very encouraging .
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Old September 26 2009, 05:23 AM   #14
charliex
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

You know, I really wanted to love it.
I love what Geoff Johns has/had done in the regular Superman comic books and his attempts at reconciling all the continuity clitches that had come up in the last few years, but for me it will always be the Byrne reboot of the 80's.
This seemed too much of a step backwards. I love the silver age and enjoy reading the comics from that era, but there was no need to go back there.

Last edited by charliex; September 26 2009 at 05:24 AM. Reason: typo
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Old September 26 2009, 06:51 AM   #15
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Re: Superman: Secret Origin #1 (SPOILERS)

i love the silver age too! man of steel was too diff then the superman i know and love! love live the silver age love dr
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