Now this is a Superman comic.
I’ve never been a reader who follows a particular character no matter the writers or artists. I’ve never been one to say, “this comic should be this way, because that’s they way it should be.” I’ve never been one to say, “a character must always do this, because that’s how the character has been written in the past.”
But it’s nice to see a comic with Superman in the title that actually has Superman inside the issue doing Superman-ish things. “Superman: Secret Origin” #4 is an excellent issue, but it probably benefits from the dearth of real Superman stories over the past ten months. With Superman off-planet and out of costume in “World of Krypton,” and with the Superman Family junior varsity keeping Metropolis from imploding in “Action Comics” and “Superman,” this Geoff Johns and Gary Frank version of Superman’s origin fills a void in the DC publishing schedule. This is Superman, the comic shouts. This is what he’s all about.
I’ve enjoyed this series since it began, but this is the best issue so far. Gary Frank’s art has never looked better, and while Geoff Johns’s dance-of-the-revamped-origin has been fun to watch, his reimagining of the Parasite’s origin gives the character a presence that he’s often missing in his other appearances. Honestly, this issue’s use of the Parasite — an idiotic slob pulled from the pathetic crowd outside LexCorp HQ who, thanks to an idiotic, slobbery mishap, becomes the purple-and-speedo monstrosity we all know and love — recalls Morrison and Quitely’s use of the character in “All-Star Superman.” There’s an eerie similarity in the way the character is drawn — the way the character moves through the space of the panels — in both series. And though “Superman: Secret Origin” may not be intended as a direct precursor to the events of that out-of-continuity series it is certainly establishing itself as a bookend to that final Superman story.
The cover of this issue has nothing to do with its contents, by the way. No dreams of old Krypton here. Just Daily Planet hijinx, Luthor’s hubris, Parasitic action, and a nice bit with Jimmy Olsen in the final sequence. Kind of the “Secret Origin of Jimmy Olsen” at the end, really.
If the other comics in the Superman line have served to remind us why Superman is so important, and to make us clamor for his return, then this series is the perfect way to whet our clamorous appetite. Johns and Frank know what they’re doing here.