Authors: Mark Waid
Artists: Leinil Franchis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan
Published: September 2003-September 2004
Recently, I’ve been enjoying various forms of Superman media and this has led me back into reading the occasional Superman comic. Mark Waid has always been one of my favorite authors and Birthright is consistently mentioned as one of the better Superman books. So, I decided to check it out and I just finished it up last night.
Birthright is a new origin story for Kal El. It begins on Krypton with his parents sending him off before the planets destruction and takes us all the way up to Clark’s first battle with Lex Luthor.
Some interesting tidbits included seeing Clark working as a freelance reporter in Africa and flying alongside native animals. It’s a very different look than that of Metropolis and Smallville.
Some interesting bits of lore include: The iconic S symbolized the hope for a better tomorrow on Krypton, which is why Clark chose to embrace it. Martha teaches Clark to look nervous, slouch, and not be assertive in order to distance his alter ego from Superman. Clark knew Lex as a teenager, but Lex either refuses to admit he knows Clark or has lost his memories due to trauma.
The book was originally written as an alternative origin story but was adopted as the true origin story, at least for a few years before comic books did comic book things.
I really enjoyed Birthright, although I wasn’t overly enthralled with the artwork. It was an interesting take on his origin and the epic Lex Luthor battle was pretty ingenious and seemed to play along perfectly with Superman finding himself and accepting who he is.
I really loved this one panel where Lois tells Superman:
You can’t show up nowadays and be a super-friend. We are a skeptical lot. Government.. advertising… God help me, the media… these things manipulate us 24/7, and worse, we know it. We claim to fight it, but most of us don’t have the energy to struggle very moment of every day. Wear us down enough , and the lesson we eventually take to heart is that it’s easier and safer to be cynical than it is to trust someone.
Wow… so well said and even wilder that it was written twenty years ago.
The version I read was a recent release that included a new epilogue by Mark Waid. It was beautiful and one of my favorite parts of the book.
Superman Birthright was pretty good. It’s not my favorite book and I’m not even sure if it’s my favorite Superman book, but for an origin story it was very solid. It’s well worth the read for Superman fans or those curious about the character.