Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
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Zod - Sworn enemy of Superman. Make sure to pick up this new definitive 1:6 scale statues from DC Collectibles.
Cover date: September 2004
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Leinil F Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Jimmy tells Van-Gar that he's been unmasked, and incites the crowd to take him out for misleading the public into hating Superman. Superman tells Jimmy not to bother, rising and punching Van-Gar.
Jimmy panics, because the tank is still real, though a large portion of the army was not. Superman tells him it's all right, and hoists the enormous tank above his head.
Luthor, meanwhile, takes the shard of Kryptonite from Lois, who starts telling him that she's going to expose him.
Luthor orders his Lexcorp goons to dispatch Superman, but the door has been jammed shut-by the giant tank.
Lois, meanwhile, slams on the projection equipment, taking it apart.
The goons outside still fighting Superman lose their weapons, and Superman tells them that Luthor has sold them out. He slams Van-Gar into a truck, taking him out of the fight.
Jimmy hands Superman his S, which had previously been torn off. He uses his heat vision to melt it back into the fabric of his costume.
Lex smacks Lois, moving to his projection machine, telling her that he's going to call Krypton and look for a way to stop Superman by talking to the Kryptonians through space-time. It will eliminate his supply of Kryptonite, but Lex says he can find more.
He takes Lois by the neck and throws her over the balcony, pressing a button that turns his soldiers into bombs, which will explode all over town.
Superman saves Van-Gar, pulling his bomb out of his chest armor, then flies down to save Lois just in time.
He holds her in mid-air. "Hi." He says.
Lex Luthor contacts Krypton.
[Krypton-translating Neal fills the phrases here, for you]:
"Sky skimming over the Fire Falls"
"Convicted for acts of Sedition against Krypton's government"
"Such a lovely daughter, Allura, she's-
"Mommy, is that a man's voice?"
Superman says to himself that Luthor is again looking for someone to talk to him. He starts to pull Luthor away.
"They're simple earthquakes, nothing to worry-"
"-would swear my instruments are registering a cry from another galaxy."
"Ensure universal peace for all future generations..."
"Celebrate our greatest works of literature"
"Imagining things again, Lord Than-Ol"
"No, Pir-Don, faint images on our scanners - fading in and out - are they illusions, or"
Superman tosses Luthor to the ground, telling him that he's proving himself to the world by stopping Luthor. Superman is distracted by the images on the screen, they are of himself being loaded into his birth chamber to be sent to Earth.
Luthor comes from behind, telling Superman that it may be genocide, but to kill Superman is a mercy, because being alone is horrible.
Superman, weakened by the Kryptonite, lets loose on Luthor, punching him out. He cries something to his parents, which is drowned out in all of the noise of Krypton's destruction.
Some of that dialogue, translated:
"Merciful Rao, what's happening?"
"Jor-Cl, was right, this is the end!" (Note, this is a typo, I'm guessing it should be...uh....EL? :) )
"Rao, why didn't we listen?"
"Heaven help us!"
"Mercy on our eternal souls!"
"Must get to my family! Hurry!"
"Save us! Someone save us!"
"Cnd of the world!" (Note, this is another typo. It's really "End". Someone messed up the C and the E letters).
"I love you!"
"Tell my wife"
"Going to die"
"Make it stopppp"
Luthor is indicted for terrorist activity. Lois and Clark share a moment discussing Superman.
On Krypton, just before they send Kal-El off, Lara and Jor-El hear what Superman was trying to say to his parents:
"Mother...father...I made it!"
Story - 4: That's the story plot, I'll make it clear. As a story, compared to the last few issues, this story excels. Continuity? That's another matter. See my companion Birthright article for commentary on that...
This is a good close to the good story we've been told, if you take it out of context and as a just plain Superman story. We had a bit of a lull with the alien invasion, and yes, a giant metal spider. Those sucked. But there are some really great moments here. Luthor with Superman, mano-e-mano, there's a touching moment with his parents, telling him he made it. That played well. There's also the moment, though it was a bit contrived, where Superman and Jimmy turn at the same time and say, "Luthor." Though it is reminiscent of the kind of thing someone who had fought Luthor many times might say, it was still worth a note.
There were many flaws. Many things that, if you let them, could really get to you.
I had it put to me really well by a close friend. Super-sewing. Using heat vision to repair a costume. Unless that costume is somehow plastic, that's just kind of, well, odd and retarded. Though the symbolic intention of effect is noble, there's no real way that heat vision could repair fabric.
There's also issues of Lex Luthor just sneaking out of the charges, as mentioned in this issue. I mean, I promised to rate the story, but this is an issue that pulls you totally out of the story. Even if the farcical idea of blaming the attacks on radiation poisoning held any water (and if it did, Chernobyl victims could get away with perpetrating crimes right and left), there's still the court of public opinion. If you kill a bunch of people, or even if you don't and still get accused of it, what are your odds of becoming the President of the United States? Exactly zero. I mean, you can be stopped as a candidate for presidency for letting out one whooping scream in excitement, as Howard Dean was. Therefore, you just immediately step back and say, "This isn't the same story, it can't be. It's not continuity." More on that in the article.
Now, there's also a complaint of pacing. Superman saves Lois as she's right about to hit the ground, which, Gwen Stacy style, would snap her neck. There needed to be a slowing panel, and that really makes the save less epic, because you see implausibility.
The "Hi." moment was a great homage to the Superman film, and I liked it. Although, truth be told, there have been a LOT of Superman: The Movie references in the comics lately, and it's going to get old soon. It's like, hey, remind them of something they once liked, we'll make the fans happier. The whole Star Wars franchise is coasting on that, and it's old. Let's take some new initiatives with Superman, eh?
And how Birthright did or didn't do that? That's for the retrospective. In this story, however, the "Hi" moment worked.
I really didn't like the fact that Superman just left all of those exploding troops to die. That will also make getting out of that murder rap a lot harder on Lex Luthor. There's also the weirdness of Van-Gar having a kryptonite chunk in his chest, and yet Superman, with his hands right on it, can rip that metal apart and get to it. What, is Kryptonite just WORTHLESS as a device now?
I absolutely abhorred having to translate all of that Kryptonian. How hard is it to translate the Kryptonian for us at the bottom of the page? It added another hour to my review, and I tell you, if I see it much more, you know what I'm gonna do to whomever is responsible?
I liked seeing a reference to Allura, though. That almost made it worthwhile. FINALLY an allusion to how they will solve this Supergirl stuff.
This is a story, and if you take it as such, it's fun. If you put any pretext in it at all, however, if you have read an issue of Superman or two in the last five years, there are so many multiple and obvious flaws with current continuity that it will drive you buggy.
But look at this as a story. As a story, there are some risks taken that may be smart, or not smart, but did you enjoy it? That's the real question. Outside of continuity, I did.
Inside of continuity, this story is a 1 of 5.
So with that said, I'll say this closes up almost all of the loose ends of Birthright. Is it an origin story? No. Because, I mean, half the story is about a Superman fight after he's been in Metropolis for a while and fighting Luthor. This is more of a Year One miniseries.
But a decent one, at that. I'll read it like I read the Death of Clark Kent. Once in a great while, but not every year, like the "Death of Superman" series or Kingdom Come.
Art - 3: I never really liked the dark, lacking facial expressions and eyes work of Leinil. He's got a style, and its great, but it's just not Superman, really. He has his moments, like when Superman is lifting the tank, or "Hi", and his Luthor is just frightening, perfect. But then there are moments like the headline, where Superman looks like he's got Spider-Man's feet and the S is so inconsistent it comes down to his belly button.
He has good points, bad points, and they balanced out to about average in this book and this series.
Cover Art - 2: I've had so many people pull me aside and ask me what was with this cover at the comic book shop. The body looks strange, out of proportion. The S is too high. The background is absent. The eyes look like a robot's. The catch phrase has nothing to do with the issue at hand (The hero emerged to hound Luthor a few issues back when Lois called him to task, or even better, when he appeared with his suit on).
And hey, is there any action on the cover? Anything to pull your eye other than, well, a picture of Superman? Not to say I don't like Superman, more that I've seen so many images of him that if you want to impress me, you have to have something distinctive, instead of well, him rearing his chest.
With no feet, at that. The format of the composition is skewed.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.