As a reviewer, I like to be upfront with my biases. Case in point, I don’t care for the mix of straight-up horror and traditional super heroics that is currently all the rage in Blackest Night. On the other hand, I have great affection for Richard Donner’s “Superman: The Movie”.
I point this out because my nostalgia for the Christopher Reeve Superman greatly influenced my enjoyment of this issue. Obviously Johns, who started as an assistant to Richard Donner, has a great deal of affection for the 1978 classic. And Gary Frank’s take on Superman is highly evocative of Reeve. As a fan, I could almost hear John Williams soaring film score as I turned the pages.
When I was a kid, my least favorite section of the movie was the middle chapter set in Smallville. After the explosion of Krypton, I was ready to get to Superman. But with repeated viewings, I gre to appreciate the Americana of the Smallville scenes. As an adult, I consider the Smallville section to be the highlight of the movie. So, this issue was practically guaranteed to be a home run for me.
I have on occasion ranted against Geoff Johns for his habit of retconning the DC Universe to suit his purposes. And that’s what Geoff Johns is doing here. He’s rewriting Superman’s origin to line up with his plans for the Superman books going forward. While that bugged me on Flash: Rebirth and Green Lantern, I have no problem with it here. Maybe it’s personal preference or maybe it’s superior execution. I leave that to you, the reader, to decide.
When this mini-series was announced, some people groused about the need to retell Superman’s origin again. This is understandable given that it is one of the most oft-told stories on comics. When you add in other media, the story of Superman’s origin has been done to death.
But Johns wisely assumes familiarity with the Superman mythos. He skips over the traditional scenes of Krypton exploding. Instead, he dwells on the parts that usually get glossed over in the typical telling of the origin. In this issue, Johns explores young Clark’s experiences as he discovered his powers in Smallville.
For a die-hard Superman fan, there’s an abundance of geeky joys to revel in. From Clark saving Lana from a wheat threasher (right out of Superman III) to a message from Jor-el (looking sort of like Marlon Brando and practically quoting the script to Superman I) to Clark’s first time in tights.
By far my favorite aspect of the book was the art. Gary Frank is a super star. He has been criminally under-rated for years now. And I’m glad to see him finally getting his due. Page after page, his art took my breath away. I could have read this story with no text whatsoever.
The book is by no means perfect. It reads like a typical Geoff Johns book. If you’re not a fan of his work, this issue isn’t likely to change your mind. But if the idea of reading another take on the Superman origin story has any appeal to you, odds are you’ll get your money’s worth out of this retelling.