Welcome to this week’s edition of Bin Fodder! Today I’m going in a new direction and diverging from my previous posts that dealt specifically in the realm of independent comics. That’s right, I’m going mainstream. And what better way to do it than with the oldest and greatest comic book hero in the world, Superman?
With such a grand legacy to the character it was important, for my purposes and the true nature and idea of what this ongoing feature is all about, to pick a storyline that wasn’t so engrained in the continuity of the title. Additionally, this allowed me to choose a story that isn’t necessarily so mainstream either. Granted, Superman: For All Seasons is written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale, a duo who have teamed up on a number of epic stories; Batman: The Long Halloween comes to mind.
This is Superman with a twist. Unlike traditional stories or adventures it’s not told from the perspective of the hero himself or purely through the dialogue of the scenes as they play out. Each comic in the four-part miniseries is told from a different perspective.
Issue one, titled Spring, has Pa Kent playing the role of narrator. This is really interesting and gives the reader insight into the mind of a character not usually used with regularity (outside the sometimes overbearing role of Mr. Kent on the television show Smallville). The issue focuses on the time leading up to when Clark left home to Metropolis en route to becoming Superman. It shows how the Kents struggled with understanding their son’s miraculous powers and how a young Clark Kent struggled to understand what he was capable of and how even he, the would-be man of steel, was humbled in his youth.
Issue two, titled Summer, is set with Lois Lane as the narrator. The issue really delves into the psyche of someone who loves and adores Superman not just as an idea but as a man, a super man. She freely admits that she’s lost perspective when it comes to the Man of Steel. Her objectivity has been compromised by a caped new-age prince charming who, instead of riding a white steed and wearing a crown of gold, flies through the skies under his own power and has a crown of perfectly coiffed hair.
Issue three, titled Fall, sees the villainy pick-up with Lex Luthor as the narrator. It’s well known that Luthor is Superman’s ultimate villain: smart and cunning, rich and powerful. It’s quite intriguing to see the world of Superman through the eyes of its truest villain. He views the city of Metropolis as his own, as like a woman he’s invested his life in and built up from nothing to being the jewel of the world. Superman is a threat to all that he has struggled to achieve and Luthor sets out to destroy him. Luthor creates a plague that affects all the people of Metropolis. They are all dying and only he has the cure. His plan is to leave Superman in a world without fanfare, without people to scream his name and cheer his accomplishments. The illness doesn’t affect Superman and when he approaches Luthor regarding help to cure it, at the behest of S.T.A.R. Labs, Superman is confronted by the poisonous thoughts that he himself is the cause of the disease.
Issue four, titled Winter, is narrated by Lana Lang and sees Superman returned to Smallville and his role as Clark Kent. He has run from the idea that he may have potentially hurt people in Metropolis by being around them. Luthor had poisoned his mind deeply and he went home to get some clarity. Lana, after learning of Clark’s secret at the end of their senior year in high school, had set off to explore the world. The issue delves into her own issues surrounding what feelings she has always harbored for Clark, how she dealt with them after leaving Smallville, and what they would always be.
I have always liked storylines that go outside normal continuity for a number of reasons. Not the least of these is the ability for the writer to really explore an aspect of the character or the universe as a whole that has never been looked at before. In the case of Superman: For All Seasons Loeb did an excellent job of taking a new perspective on telling a Superman story, which is not something that’s easy to do. One cannot ignore that in the overall realm of Superman stories ingenuity must be appreciated for what it is. For that reason it receives a grade of (insert three and one half-stars). The overall story could have been better. The art was very Tim Sale and gave an interesting look to the character of Clark but the Superman art seemed a little off. I think the concept is outstanding and the story is really good but not fantastic.
I highly recommend the read for any Superman fan out there who has not yet read this and for anyone looking for a Superman book that’s not burdened by seventy-plus years of required continuity knowledge to understand (which isn’t entirely true since Crisis on Infinite Earths reset continuity in the 80s, but I digress).
Superman: For All Seasons is a quality read and definitely worth your time and hard-earned money.
So, my friends, go Bin Diving and find this and other gems!
Until next time,
This is Bin Fodder Guru Tim Blacksmith signing off!