Saturday, April 10, 2010

Comic Book Review: Superman Secret Origin #5 (of 6)

Book Information
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Cover by Gary Frank
Inked by Jon Sibal
Colored by Brad Anderson
Lettering by Steve Wands

The name “Superman” is becoming a household name but the citizens of Metropolis are still unsure of him.  It’s an issue of trust, and not everyone does…Can you guess what Lex Luthor thinks of him?  As Superman gains popularity, the multibillionaire scientist discovers a way to weaken the Man of Steel.  Now a plan is forming to not only destroy Superman, but to bring him down to the lowest depths.  With the help of General Sam Lane and Sergeant John Corbin, Luthor puts his plan into action, with some interesting side effects. 

My Thoughts
Where Blackest Night will go down in history as the greatest comic book miniseries of all time, Superman: Secret Origin will be known as the most intriguing and well written.  Issue #5 brings some new realizations on established characters while reinventing others without disappointment. 

I’m beginning to see the reasons why a retelling of Superman’s origin was requested.  As comics evolve and consistently derive new developments within the story, questions arise as to how well these new developments connect with character’s origins and beginnings.  General Sam Lane, while being apart of the Superman story for some time now, was never established as a Superman hater and anything foreign.  With the recent commotion going on with the World of New Krypton series, with General Lane at the heart of it all, something was needed to show that Sam Lane has been around this whole time and that he has always hated the Man of Steel.  The potential for future conflicts between these two individuals is endless now because of this initial meeting.  Could Sam Lane become one of Superman’s more ruthless enemies along side Luthor?

It’s interesting to think about for me.  Superman now has two arch enemies, both of whom are humans.  The parasite could kill Superman in a heart beat along with many other super villains that Superman fights monthly, but it’s the HUMAN characters that seem to cause the most trouble for the Man of Steel.  And with John Corbin now on the cusp of becoming the famous Metallo, Geoff Johns will soon show us that Superman now has a human trifecta of arch enemies.

We are being taken on a fantastic literary journey of rediscovering Superman’s roots with new and interesting twists, focused mainly around the connection between Lois and Clark.  Geoff John’s is not only establishing both of the characters individually, but the relationship between the two has already begun in a positive manner.  Instead of giving Lois the well known “holier than thou” attitude towards Clark, she has become more of a buddy, something that Lois Lane wasn’t known for in her early years of comic book folklore. 

While everyone else is so unsure of Superman, this issue hones in on the uncertainty Lois has for Clark Kent.  The moment the “bumbling” reporter subtly and effortlessly gives Mr. John Corbin the famous ‘strong handshake’ is when Ms. Lane really starts to wonder who this man in a blue suit is.  To quote Lois, “one minute Clark Kent is this guy stumbling through his day with a milk mustache, oversized glasses and a bad suit; And the next, he’s as confident and insightful as any man I’ve ever………met.”  And it’s in that audible pause (well it’s a written pause, but you get my meaning) where she’s unsure if there are any feelings she has for him or not.  Johns is portraying this as a Lois and Clark love story rather than a Lois and Superman love story.

I can’t reiterate enough times as to how perfect Gary Frank is as THE Superman artist.  Alongside the obvious Christopher Reeve approach to Superman, Gary Frank takes so much from the Richard Donner films and sticks them into this comic book miniseries.  Everything about issue #5 gave me multiple moments of cinematic nostalgia as I was reminded so much of those campy, yet wonderful films.  

But even within this single image, the array of talent shown from Frank is incredibly vast.  The light coming from the fire, his cape wrinkled from the wind flowing behind him, the muscular definition, it's all there!  Gary Frank has really gone above and beyond with this series.

While all of that is a great aspect to these comics, this particular issue shows off Frank’s ability to entice and amaze with his artistic abilities.  One of my favorite action shots is of Superman as he lifts a chunk of building away from two innocent bystanders amongst the pyretic mass burning all around them.  While Aaron Lopresti and Ed Benes take the top spot with me as the best comic book artists in the business, Gary Frank continues to impress upon me how great he truly is.  His attention to detail can certainly not go unnoticed.  He has an uncanny ability to utilize light to his advantage in getting that emotional effect…

And giving the rooms in the Daily Planet office building that dirty, unkept, busy look about them…

Other Aspects
While this issue is fantastic and the most entertaining installment of this series, I can’t say the cover meets the standards set with what’s inside.  Sure it’s drawn well and Lex Luthor looks as creepy as he always has, but there’s a little bit of false advertising going on here.  Yes, John Corbin will become Metallo, with the emphasis in the word ‘WILL.’  In this issue, Corbin doesn’t even know what’s about to happen to him, but the cover suggests he has suited up and ready to battle the Man of Steel.  This isn’t a big deal by any means, but it does make me wonder what kind of planning is involved when it comes to designing a comic book cover in the DC world.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Next Issue Coming May 26, 2010
The reimagining of Superman's early days concludes as he faces his toughest foe yet – his childhood friend Lex Luthor! The victor will be Metropolis's hero. If you think you know how this plays out, then you underestimate how much Luthor wants that title…

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