It’s common for Marvel and DC Comics to time new trade paperback collections with the release of new films for their licensed properties, so it’s not a surprise that we’re starting to see numerous new Superman collections hit the shelves now that The Man of Steel is just a month and a half away. What is a surprise, however, is this particular collection, which brings together this ostensibly Elseworlds mini-series which was published back in 2004. The timing of the original mini-series was always intriguing to me, as it basically re-introduces the concept of Superboy Prime, at the same time as in the regular DCU the original Superboy Prime from the 1980s returned in Infinite Crisis.
Besides the basic concept of a young man named Clark Kent finding out that he really does have super powers, like the comic character Superman, there’s not much else here which ties the character to the original Superboy Prime character. And to be honest, that’s a good thing, as Busiek takes that core concept and tells a much more interesting story about this young man, throughout his life, starting when he grows up on a farm, and ending years later, after he’s had a family and grandchildren. It’s a very heart-felt story, which is sentimental and engaging, although admittedly light on actual super-heroics. There’s not much action to be found in this collection, but I honestly didn’t mind that a bit, as it’s just not necessary. The Superman title is meant to sell books, it’s not truly what the story is about. It’s a story about a young man who ends up having the same powers as comic-related namesake, and how he goes about his life despite his famous name. The fact that he has super powers means his life takes some interesting turns, and there’s some fun nods to Superman’s history, with Clark meeting his own Lois, and settling down and having a family. Busiek feels very at home with telling this sentimental tale, as he easily taps into this new character, bringing not just him but also his world to life. Clark puts on the Superman costume and does good deeds throughout the series, but we also get to see how Clark grows up and truly becomes a man. He meets the love of his life, marries her, and then has to deal with the fears of becoming a father. As an expectant father myself, I thought Busiek did a brilliant job with making Clark feel like a real person, with regular hopes and fears, despite the powers and the Superman costume.
Stuart Immonen provides the artwork for the series, and it’s markedly different from some of his more recent artwork. For one, Immonen handles the pencils, inks and colours, but the inks are noticeably different than some of his more recent work. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a certain storybook quality, which was instrumental in cementing the emotional resonance of the story in the artwork.
This is a great read top to bottom, although it’s not a “real” Superman story by any means. That doesn’t mean it isn’t one hell of a great read though. Highly Recommended, this is a fantastic book, extremely enjoyable.