WRITER: FRANK MILLER | ARTIST: JOHN ROMITA JR | PUBLISHER: DC BLACK LABEL | FORMAT: HARDCOVER | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Surely in the assembled archives of all of comicdom there is no better known origin story than the almost biblical tale of a young orphan blasted from a planet in its death throes, landing on Earth, adopted by a kindly childless couple who raise him on their farm until he comes of age and becomes inarguably the greatest super hero of them all. It’s a legend that has transgressed its humble post-depression era comic book origins and is fully a part of mainstream pop culture legend. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that most of our planet’s population have heard the story, either in print, television, cinema, or radio.
This begs the question - why bother retelling it yet again? Despite his status as one of the greatest writers in the comic book industry, what could Frank Miller possibly bring to the table that we haven’t seen before over the past 81 years? This is indeed the legend that we’ve all grown up with. Krypton is atomised, Kal-El is saved, sent hurtling to our planet, where he’ll have superpowers. It’s all here. But Miller has skilfully made it all fresh again. It’s Superman, but not quite as we know him. And that’s not a bad thing.
Clark Kent is undeniably typical Clark Kent, wholesome and good. A truly decent person, raised in a Norman Rockwell-esque middle America – but there are subtle changes to the narrative. Kent is still mild mannered, but uses his developing powers to help his bullied friends at school without giving the game away that he’s different. Leaving school, he joins the Navy in a new twist and seems to be headed toward ranger or sniper training due to his excellent eyesight and aim. But instead, he meets his first love, Lori Lemaris the mermaid, and falls foul her father, the creepily incestuous King Poseidon and his Kraken. All this before he heads to Metropolis, where we meet Lois and the rest of the usual ensemble, which include a certain vigilante from Gotham and an Amazonian princess.
Miller has crafted a tale that is epic in scope, weaving in not only the original concept, but also builds upon the work of Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel by embracing elements of Smallville, Superman – The Movie, and interestingly Dawn of Justice. All drawn with the finely detailed lines of John Romita Jr.
It’s a self-contained story that covers the major milestones and adds to them, ending with a promise of more to come, as Superman is still maturing. Whether the creative team will undertake the challenge of where the Man of Steel goes next remains to be seen – but if they do, this initial outing will guarantee a solid readership.