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Superman for All Seasons

If you’ve never read a Superman comic before, start with this one. Superman for All Seasons is a character study of who Superman is and what he represents. This isn’t an origin story. It doesn’t go into Superman’s alien past and how he came from a dying planet and all that hoopla. Jeph Loeb’s story is about Clark Kent leaving home and facing his destiny as Superman. Tim Sale’s incredible artwork brings a sense of grandeur and makes the icon more iconic.

There is no central narrator. Each season has it’s own narrator with their own view on Superman and/or Clark Kent. It’s kind of like Citizen Kane; you get a sense of the man through other people’s opinions of him. The first season explored is Spring. Jonathan Kent narrates as Clark Kent is on the verge of graduating from high school, and Clark is trying to cling on to memories but knows that he can’t stay in Smallville forever. Jonathan is worried about Clark’s powers and what he will do with them, but one day Clark saves a guy’s life and decides that saving people will be his calling. The boy becomes a man and goes to Metropolis to start his new life as Superman.

Lois Lane narrates the Summer story. Her perfect reporter world was turned upside down by the arrival of the Man of Steel. She’s still trying to grasp the fact that things have changed, that a man can fly, that the old rules don’t apply anymore. Superman saves Metropolis and Lois from a nuclear missile and submarine attack, because he’s Superman and that’s what he does. He feels lonely and homesick so he goes back to visit Smallville and is dismayed at how it doesn’t feel the same. Martha Kent reminds him that’s what happens when you grow up and to shut up and go back to Metropolis. He gets back just in time to save a lady from a fire and he scolds Lex Luthor’s flying soldiers for almost killing her.

Lex Luthor is the narrator for the Fall season. He is in love with Metropolis and doesn’t like the new guy who also calls it home. He hatches a plot to make Superman leave. It involves poisoning the citizens of Metropolis and making Superman come to him for help. Lex finds the lady that Superman saved from the fire in Summer, and brainwashes her into becoming Toxin. Superman goes to confront Lex, but time is of the essence, so he takes Toxin and they fly around spreading the antidote. And then Toxin suddenly dies and Lex manipulate Superman into thinking it was his fault that Toxin dies. Superman gets all sad and goes back home to Smallville.

It is now Winter, and Lana Lang takes over the narrating duties. Lana reveals that she wanted to marry Clark, but had to let him go be Superman. Clark and Lana spend some time together catching up and reliving old memories. They walk around Smallville, feeling nostalgic about being home again. There’s a huge flood that threatens the town and Clark comes to grips that he is Superman and that he has to do something because that’s what Superman does. The flood is a wakeup call and Clark goes back to the city and accepts his life as Superman.

This is not an exciting comic. There’s not much action scenes. It’s a reflection on who Clark Kent is and why he does what he does. It’s about the impact of Superman, about how he affects other people and what he means to them. The story is great and the art is amazing. There are several pictures that take up two whole pages, showing Clark and Jonathan gazing at a sunset or Superman flying heroically across the sky.

Superman for All Seasons is required reading for a Superman fan. It’s worth reading even if you don’t like Superman. It’s a coming-of-age story, it’s about finding your place in the world. Everyone can relate to that.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Smallville (tv show)

Smallville is a TV show about Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. Tom Welling plays a young Clark Kent and you see him go from a nerdy high school freshman to a reporter for the Daily Planet over the course of ten seasons. The early seasons are about Clark discovering strange new abilities and learning how to control them and he also starts exploring his origins. The later seasons are about him accepting his destiny, and there’s tons of characters and references to the DC universe. The cast changed quite a bit over the years as well. The early seasons were about Clark’s life in Smallville and growing up on a farm with his parents John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole). He hangs out with his friend Pete and Chloe (Sam Jones III and Allison Mack) and has a crush on the smoking hot Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Over the course of the series most of the supporting characters are phased out, but Allison Mack stuck around for most of the show’s run. In the pilot episode Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) hits Clark with his car and they both fall off a bridge and land in the water. Clark saves Lex and they become friends, but Lex becomes obsessed with how Clark escaped without injury. Lex and Clarks friendship dissolves over a few seasons and Lex gradually becomes a bad guy. Lex has one of the best character arcs of the series, even if Rosenbaum left after seven seasons. Clark pines for Lana for a few seasons and they even get together a few times, but eventually Lois Lane shows up. Erica Durance is pretty smoking hot too and you can’t have a show about Superman without having Lois Lane, so she was a great addition to the cast. There are lots of references to the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder both guest starred on the show. Terrence Stamp (General Zod in Superman II) provides the voice for Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Other DC characters joined the show. Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) became a series regular and other members of the Justice League show up like Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter to name a few. Bruce Wayne/Batman never showed up though. A few notable villains show up too. General Zod, Brainiac, Bizarro, Doomsday and other DC bad guys make appearances. The first season had a lot of one-time villains. Usually someone from Smallville has an encounter with Kryptonite and transform somehow before Clark tears shit up and gets things back to normal so that next week something else could happen. Later on the storylines become more complex and there’s more story arcs that last multiple episodes or span over a few seasons. Every once in a while there will be a random episode that doesn’t have much to do with the overall storyline, but that happened less and less as the show progressed. The special effects are pretty solid for a TV show. There’s some cool CG work when Clark is using his superpowers and there are some pretty awesome fight scenes. But there’s also a lot of soap opera drama going on. Sometimes the show was a little more Gossip Girls than a superhero series. But I’m ok with it because Clark usually punches something or someone and I like violence. Smallville isn’t the best show of all time, but it’s still pretty good. Ten seasons is a great run for a TV series. They turned it into a comic book, so you can keep following the ongoing adventures of Clark Kent. Give this show a chance if you haven’t yet. Superheroes, hot chicks, cool CG, cool fight scenes… that’s entertainment. Critically Rated at 14/17

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