Saturday, January 16, 2010

Superman For All Seasons

Smallville used to be good. Don't get me wrong. When all of the seasons went on sale for $10 each at Best Buy, on Black Friday, I still bought all of them. But the quality of the show has declined in recent years. As the seasons changed, so did the show. The original premise and appearance of the show was very appealing. The show started with Clark Kent living with his parents on the Kent farm. The show at it's core was not about the story of Clark's life with powers, but rather the relationships he shares with close friends, family, and community. The story in which the show draws from is most obviously Jeph Loeb and Time Sale's, Superman For All Seasons.

Jeph Loeb splits Superman For All Seasons into seasons (surprise, surprise) narrated by the thoughts of important people in Clark's life. Starting in the Spring, we follow the narration of Jonathan Kent, Clark's father. This season represents the changes in Clark's life. He is discovering his powers, graduating from high-school, and moving away from the Kent farm. Through Jonathan's narration we understand both how a father feels when their young one grows up and doesn't need them anymore, and how Jonathan's worry for his son's future is natural and out of love. The bonds between a father and his son have always been a theme in Superman comic books, but Loeb captures the moments when fear is based on love and the changing of the times or status quo.

The Summer season is the transition of Clark and his Smallville life into Superman and his Metropolis life. Small town to the big city. Narrated by Lois Lane, a new type of woman to Clark, we learn how Clark feels lonely and out of place. Yet at the same time, when he returns home for a visit, he feels out of place there as well.

The winter is narrated by Lex Luther, Superman's arch enemy, and we are given an understanding to the "why" involved with Lex. Lex loves Metropolis in a twisted way. His jealousy of Superman roots from the fact that the city loves Superman back and only acknowledges Lex. Lex hates Superman because the city loves Superman.

Ending in Fall, Loeb has Lana Lang, Clark's first love, close out the narration. Lana loved Clark before he was Superman and acts as an anchor for Clark when he feels  he has let down Metropolis. Lana wanted a life with Clark but let's him go because she knows he is meant for much more and it would be selfish for her to keep him. The story closes out by Clark understanding that life changes like the seasons, but his morality and character which has been shaped by many people (including the four narrators) will remain the same.

Tim Sale's art in the book is in the classic Tim Sale form, yet he fuses many Norman Rockwell like imagery with his depiction of Smallville. The panels give the reader an understanding of the simple life outside the city. This adaptation of Sale's art to the Rockwellian style maybe Sale's best work. Though the writing is timeless, the imagery alone could tell theis story.

Superman For All Seasons is the comic of the day, but could be the comic of any day because it is truly a masterpiece. This is the definitive story of Superman.

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