Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's a bird! It's a plane!

Let me start this off by saying that I'm definitely not knowledgeable about super heroes, and most particularly about Superman. I don't even know where to begin to start with him, and I don't think I want to make a project of it - it would be a big project. So, I've just been reading the Superman GNs that we have (which is only a few).
The one I started with is not really a Superman story. It's not about the character of Superman, anyway. It's a Bird by Steven T. Seagle & Teddy Kristiansen is the story of one man's quest to connect with the Man of Steel. The narrator writes comic books, but is not a Superman fan. When he's asked to write Superman - the most coveted assignment in the industry - his first instinct is to say no. His editor persists, though, until he agrees to consider it. He spends the next several days trying to make sense of his own life, dealing with his father's sudden disappearance, his break-up with his girlfriend, and his fear of a hereditary disease that is wasting his family members. Through all this, he tries to find a way to connect with Superman, wondering how someone human who is simply a scared man can relate to Superman.
I picked this one up because it was recommended at a workshop as a great look at the creative process, something that could be used in the classroom. It's true that it explores creativity, but I'm not sure kids will relate to it that well. The narrator's issues are mostly adult issues, and I think kids might find him a whiney wimp. I liked the story, but I didn't particularly care for the artwork in this one.
Superman: Infinite City has more traditional comic art work and an interesting if rather forgettable story line. Intrigued by an unusual weapon confiscated from a criminal, Clark Kent and Lois Lane investigate the manufacturer. What at first seems to be a run down cafe in Infinite City turns out to be a portal into a place in between dimensions - which Lois promptly stumbles through, of course. She is whisked off by the inhabitants to quarantine, so by the time Clark follows, she has disappeared. Clark is welcomed to this nexus of realities by the Warden, a man with powers that seem to be similar to Superman's. Trying to keep his identity (actually, both of them) a secret, Clark provides a false name, but quickly becomes involved in a conflict, attempting to back up the Warden. Superman's powers seem a bit impaired by the unfamiliar conditions, but his uniqueness is noted and he is taken to see the Mayor of Infinite City. The adventure that follows - Superman attempting to find and rescue Lois and save Infinite City & Earth from destruction, contains little that is unexpected. The artwork for this one, however, is pretty interesting - I love Lois's hair.
The best of the three, in my humble-and-not-so-knowledgeable opinion, is Birthright: The Origin of the Man of Steel, written by Mark Waid. It's the story of how Clark Kent came to be Superman, the story of Clark's search for his identity and the creation of the first super hero. The story starts at the beginning, when Kal-El is sent to Earth from a doomed planet by his loving parents, then jumps ahead to Clark as a young man on a journalism assignment in Africa. Well-traveled, Clark has witnessed violence, crime and injustice around the world, but the events that occur on this assignment are enough to convince him he must use his powers to make a difference. And so Superman is born. This one is a great place to start.

Seagel, Steven. Teddy Kristiansen, artist. It's a Bird. New York: Vertigo, 2004.

Kennedy, Mike. Carlos Meglia, artist. Superman: Infinite City. New York: DC Comics, 2005.

Waid, Mark. Leinil Francis Yu, penciller. Gerry Alanguilan, inker. Dave McCaig, colorist. Birthright: The Origin of the Man of Steel. New York: DC Comics, 2004.

What I'm Reading: Nothing, at this point. I just can't seem to get into anything! I think I'm putting aside Rose of No Man's Land by Michelle Tea (good but too depressing for me right now), but I don't know what I'm replacing it with.
On My Bookshelf: Well, the same as before, with the addition of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and Peter Moore's Caught in the Act.


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