Secret Origin…

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Continuing SUPERMANIA’s ongoing series of posts dedicated to comic reading specially selected for fans of the Movie series, the above may well represent the best and purest interpretation to date.   Indeed, writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank may well have created a satisfactory substitute for what was long thought to be a lost cause – a virtual comic adaptation of Superman: The Movie.

Having already wowed fans old & new with with their shamelessly cinematic Superman: Brainiac series, this dream-team pairing next applied their epic take on his ‘Secret’ origins, in a bold revision not attempted since John Byrne’s definitive Man Of Steel in 1986.

Over the course of six spellbinding issues, Johns & Frank manage to spin a tale of considerable substance, cherry-picking from all of the best influences from all the Man Of Tomorrow’s rich history and many incarnations, ultimately producing a graphic novel I could only describe as a precious gift to fans of the classic Superman Movies.

Indeed, there are so many rich references and sweet homage to Richard Donner’s pictures I could easily make extensive posts on every issue.  As for the collection, however, beyond the main players (Christopher Reeve’s Superman/Clark Kent written and illustrated to perfection) find mentions of obscurities such as Gil Friesen to nothing short of a glorious re-interpretation of the double jeopardy scene from Superman: the Movie.  Interspersed with some classic comic-book action (featuring outstanding re-imaginings of villains The Parasite and Metallo, Johns also invests considerable time & energy into addressing much of the ambiguity regarding the Superman mythos (Including the invention of the costume and the cute necessity of Clark’s glasses) in a contemporary fashion Christopher Nolan would certainly approve of.

For all its stylish integrity, however, the book does have one fairly significant and questionable failing – the re-introduction of Superboy.  In a baffling second issue, Superboy comes to terms with his Superhero obligations with the help of the Legion Of Superheroes. In a move of such incomprehensible silliness totally at odds with the rest of the tone established by issue 1, Superboy travels in time for an adventure in the distant future.  Even the sweetly contrived arrival of Krypto The Superdog can’t save the issue from ruining what would otherwise be an exquisite collection.  Obligingly, the story does not suffer by its deletion, so the reader can easily skip from issues 1 to 3 with little or no fallout.

Despite my longing for the Johns/Frank pairing to continue on the character in his regular run until the end of time, this book, tragically, to date, this is their epitaph.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank them both for sharing their vision whilst applying Christopher Reeve’s persona to a tale worthy of the affection we clearly share of his interpretation to this day…

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