In this, the final issue of Geoff Johns’ new interpretation of The Man of Steel’s early years, the people in Superman’s adoptive city of Metropolis come to their realizations of what this new God-like citizen means to them, for good and bad. As the xenophobic General Lane makes his move against not only Superman, but the Daily Planet as well, all hell breaks loose when the General’s weapon that calls himself Metallo decides to make his personal hatred public in the city streets.
Lois Lane’s father has the hatred, John Corben has the kryptonite heart powering his new Metallo body, and Lex Luthor is backing both of them as a means to get rid of the “alien”. Though this story takes place in the early days of Superman’s career and naivete, it also shows that his enemies lined up against him before his fans did. This is the moment where he has to earn Metropolis’ trust and earn the beginnings of a relationship with a certain lady reporter that is synonymous with the character of Superman.
Though I can already see the haters standing by their misgivings over this series, I’m going on record as saying that I loved it. This issue plays a little cheesier at times than the previous issues, but the overall tone of the book is so positive that I’m willing to forgive some of the more cliche lines wherein Supes really is like a Big Blue Boyscout. With lines like “A soldier is a soldier because they dedicate their lives to protecting innocents--Not putting them in harm’s way” yeah, I can see where a reader might roll their eyes a bit at it.
Geoff Johns more than equals it out though by making Superman very well layered emotionally. Offsetting the cheese by showing moments where he genuinely gets mad and he throws a punch because he wants to, Johns’ version of the character isn’t about being flawed, it’s about being complete. He gets mad, he gets frustrated, scared and hurt along with the smiles, fun and adventure.
In summary, Geoff Johns shows us the core of what makes Superman awesome: he’s quite possibly the most human out of everyone on the planet and he wasn’t even born here. I think there’s something great in being reminded of that. Of getting that elbowed nudge accompanied with a “Hey, remember how much you used to love Superman? This is why.”
Driving everything to such a wonderful conclusion is the nothing-short-of-stellar artwork by Gary Frank, Jon Sibal and Brad Anderson. I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t crazy over Frank’s Metallo design, but that’s the closest thing to anything remotely negative I could possibly come up with as far as the art chores go here.
I believe I’ve said it before when reviewing Gary Frank’s artwork with this stable of characters, but he has delivered what I feel to be the new definitive versions of the Superman cast. His Lex Luthor has a personality in the facial expressions that is going to be pretty hard for anyone to top. His Superman/Clark Kent is a wonderful charismatic blend of the comic book version mixed with Christopher Reeve, and while the Reeve side shows that charm, Frank also translates a toughness in that same face that was smiling a minute ago but is now about to hit something very, very hard.
It’s also worth noting that he draws Lois Lane more realistically than anyone I can remember right now. She has a body that you might actually see on a woman you know (meaning she doesn’t have a ridiculously unnatural chest and curves) and her expressions go across an exceptionally full range.
Can this guy draw Superman at least once a year, please? Forever?
If anyone forgot that they love Superman, Secret Origin is the refresher course they’ve been looking for without necessarily knowing it. And if they have yet to fall in love with the character, exactly what is wrong with you?!
I’m giving it an A- instead of a perfect grade only because of the cheese-ish spots I mentioned earlier, but make no mistake; I think this series is an awesome tribute to what the idea of what Superman represents to people’s hearts all over the world. No shame in rooting for the good guy, no matter how hip, cynical or jaded we might think we are.