Here’s an idea: let’s take the most famous, instantly recognizable hero and retell his origin. Again. For the bajillionth time. While I am loathe to admit it, I was very hesitant to purchase this book. After all, from the “Superman” feature films to “Smallville” to John Byrne’s “Man of Steel” and back to television for “The Adventures of Superman,” how many times can we tell one origin? How many different tastes can vanilla possibly take on?
That’s where Gary Frank and Geoff Johns come in. They take vanilla — that thing we’re so familiar with — and add the sprinkles (or jimmies for my friends on the East Coast), hot fudge (or caramel), whipped cream and then hand us the spoon. “No cherry?” you ask. Sorry. Not yet. This issue is just prep work — a treat for the eyes. Frank draws the most Christopher Reeve-like Superman I have ever seen, which is not a bad thing in my opinion. Frank keeps Superman lean, but muscular. Frank’s supporting characters are believable, but not common, and the details in the backgrounds Frank draws are mind-boggling. These are some good sprinkles.
Johns has the unenviable task of trying to freshen up a story that has been freshened up more than a few times over the past seventy years. Johns manages to do so while paying tribute to the “Superman” movie franchise, “Smallville,” and the comics that have come before. Nothing is undone here, just shuffled, tweaked, or highlighted. Johns puts us alongside the Kents as Ma and Pa reveal the rocket to their son. We hear Pete Ross’ arm snap while playing football with Clark. We see Clark’s first kiss. All of these pieces are welcome additions to the legend, but they don’t threaten the story that existed before this issue.
Johns and Frank are setting out to give us the absolute version of Superman’s origin. Once and for all, or at least for the next so many years, this will be the book to come back to for Superman’s origin story. This issue in particular gives us Clark’s discovery of his powers. Next issue promises the Legion. I’m definitely in for the full run here, but I’m also seriously considering getting this as a trade or hardcover to lend out to friends and family who want to learn more about the Man of Steel.