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Superman: Secret Identity


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Superman: Secret Identity back

Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen

Price: 
14.99

Page 45 Review by Stephen

Until Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley produced the note-perfect ALL-STAR SUPERMAN four years later, I wrote that if you were ever going to buy any Superman book, this should be it. Even though (or perhaps because) it's not about Superman at all.

It's about a boy called Clark Kent who grows up in Kansas and whose parents really weren't thinking when they christened him. All his life he's had to endure jibes about his name and birthday/christmas presents focussing almost exclusively on the Superman theme just because he shares the comicbook character's name. It's not as if he has superstrength; he can't hear whispers several miles away; he can't even fly. Or at least he couldn't. Then one night, much to Clark's teenage surprise, he finds that he can.

So what you have here is a clean slate with someone whose powers echo Superman's, but who then has to navigate his way through a real-world context of education, careers and relationships, and a real-world context of the CIA and American military who you just know would do anything to lay their hands on someone they would consider either an asset or a direct threat to their national and geopolitical interests. Either/or. "There ain't no neutral ground". They cannot just leave him alone, they're constantly trying to track and trick him, but Clark doesn't want to end up their pawn and cannot afford to endanger his family, and you really do spend most of the series anxious about the consequences.

There are some writers who really don't fare well in standard superhero comics but who shine on their own pet projects, and Kurt is one of them. This harbours all the affection and thought that he pours into ASTRO CITY, and I think much of that has to do with the fact that if there's no continuity, no context other than that of his own choosing, and he's particularly interested in the perspective of ordinary human beings when confronted with the extraordinary, which is where this succeeds.

What do you tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife? And at what stage of the relationship? What, if anything, do you ever tell your family? How would any of these people react? And what would you do with your gifts? What would it actually be like, to suddenly discover you could fly?

I think Immonen gives you a pretty fine description, visually, with some awesome midnight scenes above the Kansas countryside, and this is leagues above anything I've seen him submit before. He's on colouring duty as well, and uses that to soften the forms, retaining as much pencil as possible.

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