I brought some reading material with me to Boston Comic Con. I was exhibiting by myself, and I knew there would be some downtime. I could have entertained myself solely with my phone, but I didn’t want to risk falling into that rabbit hole while I needed to be alert. Books are nice distraction when you need to entertain yourself but not cut yourself off from the world entirely. I brought two of my favorite superhero graphic novels with me to read. All-Star Superman and Superman: Birthright.
I’ve been in a funk about Superman lately. Ever since I gave up on mainstream comics, thanks to constant reboots discouraging me from getting invested in any ongoing stories, my only exposure to my favorite superhero has been other media. I’m told Superman is portrayed very well on the Supergirl TV show, but I haven’t gotten a chance to watch that yet. And while that is a nice example I’m eager to see, other exposure has left me feeling deflated. I have an unhealthy amount of nerd rage for Man of Steel, and from everything I heard about Batman vs. Superman I’m glad I never saw it. The Injustice video games appear to be very well-crafted and fun brawlers, but the story modes revolving around Superman’s reign of tyranny are stories that do not interest me.
So I turned to what are, in my humble opinion, the best examples of Superman in print. All-Star Superman and Superman: Birthright. These graphic novels not only showcase what I love most about the character, but hold high the lofty ideals of what a superhero can and should be.
Superman: Birthright is an amazing look at his origin. It’s an update rather than a reworking, and holds true to many of the core concepts that make Superman so beloved. Clark Kent is genuine and likeable, and his choice to stop hiding and embrace his otherworldly heritage feels like a natural character arc rather than forced superheroism. When we’re first introduced to Lois Lane it’s not because she’s in danger, it’s because she’s standing up for someone being bullied, and that fierce backbone is a constant throughout this amazing book. Lex Luthor is presented as a more tragic figure, but never so much that it diminishes his wickedness and villainy. I cannot recommend this book enough.
All-Star Superman is a classic. It’s been listed numerous times as one of the best and/or one of the most important graphic novels ever made. I agree completely. This is Superman as not only the iconic superhero, but as uplifting science fiction. Many people complain that Superman isn’t interesting because “he’s so overpowered.” In All-Star Superman, he is literally overpowered as a result of flying too close to the sun (thanks to a trap set by Lex Luthor) and it results in arguably the best Superman story ever told. I don’t even know where to begin with All-Star Superman. There is so much heart, so much love, so much compassion and trust in this book that it makes you understand why Superman is such an important character not only in the genre of comics, but in our modern mythology. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read it and I still catch things I missed the previous read-through. Even if you do not consider yourself a fan of superhero comics, you need to read All-Star Superman. You won’t regret it.
I would go so far to say that Superman: Birthright and All-Star Superman represent everything I love about superheroes. STAR POWER is heavily influenced by these graphic novels, and I constantly try to make Danica Maris as believable and beloved as Clark Kent.