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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Superman: Secret Identity

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Stuart Immonen
Lettering: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
This is one of DC's Elseworld's titles.  The term Elseworlds refers to books where the characters are "taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places, some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist".

This story is set on a world much like our own where superpowers are the stuff of comic books and fiction only.  A young lad brought up in a small Kansas town is named Clark Kent by his parents.  As he grows up he endures constant streams of Superman themed gifts and memorabilia, and Superman themed taunts and bullying from his schoolmates. Clark learns to love solitude and one night, whilst sleeping under the stars he awakes to discover he is flying and has all of Superman's powers!

The story is told in four parts, focusing on Clark's adolescence and early forays into saving people, his entry into the world of work and experience on blind dates, marriage, raising a family and old age.  Throughout all this he has to devise a way to keep his powers and identity a secret, both from curious journalists and the government who wish to control and exploit him.

This is a book about what an ordinary man would do if he were to gain powers, and is a thousand miles away from the traditional superhero comic book.

What's good about it?
Although the story is about a Clark Kent, it does not follow the traditional Superman story.  As such, there are no silly plots, no damsels in distress, no aliens or giant robot fights and no absurd villains.  It is simply a story about a human being who happens to be able to do these wondrous things.  You can never forget that he is ordinary and even the use of the suit doesn't come across as stupid or ridiculous.

It's warm, loving, gentle and enduring.  It's a story about family, about caring for your loved ones, about ethics and morality.

What's bad about it?
Much like Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the Eight Grade and It's a Bird I cannot find anything to critique about this book.  I think it's simply lovely.  In the interests of transparency I should add that I am a big Superman fan, which came about when I watched the Christopher Reeves films as a child.  I would understand that if you are not interested in Superman you may be sceptical about this book, but I urge to give it a go.

What's the art like?
A mixture of mock 1950s and more modern styles.  Stuart Immonen provides a wonderful sense of space in the airborne panels, this give those pieces a wonderful sense of freedom.  His inking style is quite unique and the shading is somewhat heavy at times, but it is used to good effect.

Other Information
I believe this is now out of print, but it is likely to be available on Amazon or Ebay, second hand, should you wish to purchase a copy.  If bought new this would probably cost between £9.99 and £12.99.  If you do go hunting for it, be careful and check that you buying the collected trade and not one of the original monthly single issues.  If you want help with identifying or checking what you are buying you can email me (see the 'about' links on the left)
ISBN:  1401204511

1 comment:

  1. Little additional note for this one:
    It will see a new reptrint in October!

    Good thing, because both the original issues and the tradepaperback are getting quite difficult to track down. Specially since the TPB is officially out of print currently.