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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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The Return of Superman

Doomsday killed Superman, and the world needs a savior. Four mysterious men show up claiming to be Superman. One is a teenager, one is a cyborg, one has a spiffy looking visor, and one is plated with custom armor. Who is good? Who is evil? Who is pretending? Will the real Superman please stand up?

The emergence of each new Superman fills the void for a Metropolis still grieving for their fallen hero. The Superguys eventually gain their own followers and supporters, each believing their Superman to be the real Superman. Lois Lane has the sneaking suspicion that none of them are actually the real deal. She has some history with Superman, so she is the expert I guess.

The teenaged Superman is really more of a Superboy. He doesn’t like to be called that, but fuck him. He is clone of Superman. He’s an arrogant, cocky, reckless hero, who eventually settles down a bit. The cyborg Superman, also known as the Man of Tomorrow, looks like half Superman and half a Terminator. He is made from Kryptonian technology of course. Spiffy Visor Superman looks the most like Superman, he even has some of his memories, but he is cold, calculating, and ruthless, and that’s not Clark Kent. The armored Superman is the only one who blatantly tells people that he is not the reincarnation of Superman. He is big black guy so I don’t think they would believe him anyway. He is called the Man of Steel or Steel, and his real name is John Henry Irons. One or more of these Superdudes might just have a sinister agenda; you’ll just have to read it to find out.

It’s a long story, much more so than the Death of Superman. It’s pretty easy to follow for as lengthy as it is. There are lots of subplots and a cool twist. I like it more than the Death of Superman; it is more complex of a story with better artwork. You realize that the world needs a Superman, and just because a guy is rocking a cape with an S insignia doesn’t make him a savior.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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