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Superman: Birthright #5

Superman: Birthright #5

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 5, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Leinil F Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Inside a military base a General demands to know how their robot-controlled helicopters have gone rogue. They try to destroy the choppers, but the self-destruct mechanisms have been disabled. However, two of them fall out of the sky and into the east river. They were downed by a flying man, and a red cape.

Across the city, the helicopters strike out against Superman with their guns, sending him flying across the horizon. Staggering out of the rubble, Superman tells himself that he won't let that happen again. Soaring across the city he arrives just in time to defend a park full of people from a rain of bullets. He quickly destroys the remaining two helicopters and then takes off across the city towards the Lexcorp tower, where he can see the rogue radio wave transmission emanating from.

Inside the tower, security personal try to rush everyone out as they evacuate the building. Taking advantage of the distraction, Lois and Jimmy sneak into the building, hoping to catch a glimpse of the flying man.

In his office, Luthor talks with someone describing Superman when the Man of Steel crashes through the window. Luthor starts to talk, but Superman tells him to shut up. The helicopters killed two people, and injured seventeen. Superman tells him that he traced the signals, but Luthor instantly refutes that. He doesn't have a chance in court. Luthor demands to know who designed the technology that gives him his powers.

Suddenly a group of security officers rush into the office and point their weapons at Superman. With a burst of heat vision Superman melts their weapons down to slag and then turns back to Luthor. He tells him that he will learn why Luthor interfered with the military test. Suddenly Lois and Jimmy burst into the room, Lois asking Luthor questions and Jimmy snapping pictures as fast as he can. Luthor puts on a show of being friends with Superman, but a minute after Jimmy takes the picture a guard grabs his camera. Superman soars out of the office, bowling over the guards on his way out. Luthor throws Lois and Jimmy out.

Outside Jimmy moans about his stolen camera when a camera suddenly drops into his hands. Above them, Superman flies away. A woman on a rooftop waves and thanks him for saving her from the helicopter attack. Superman gives one of his trademark winks and vanishes over the horizon.

The Daily Planet the next day bear Lois' story, complete with Jimmy's pictures of the Man of Steel. It isn't much, but it is the first dirt anyone has ever gotten on Luthor. Perry calls Lois' attention away from her desk to introduce Clark Kent, her new partner. Lois is shocked, but Perry says the Clark delivered a very impressive expose on the chopper sabotage, and now he wants Lois to teach him the ropes.

Lois turns to Clark and spends a moment staring at him before she turns away, telling herself to forget it. Clark quietly thanks his mother for his disguise.

Later that day Clark writes his mother about him meeting Lex again. He had hoped that they could be friends again, but Lex is a completely different person now. He does worry that Lex could figure out his identity far too easily. Spotting an emergency, he flies off.

Luthor touches down on a helipad outside of a Lexcorp company and heads inside. He discusses their mission of finding extraterrestrial life before he heads down into a deep subbasement. Once there he opens up a vault and the base loses power as it's power supply is disconnected. Luthor stares at a glowing piece of rock with a distinctive S Symbol in the middle of it. Picking up his cell phone, Luthor tells his secretary to schedule a meeting with Clark Kent.

5Story - 5: I knew it was a good idea to review this book after "Action Comics #809". Now I can be in a good mood instead of a horrible one. Everything about this issue hits perfectly.

But first, I'll do my continuity gripes. I don't like the fact that Lois and Luthor don't know each other, or so it seems by the way that she introduced herself. I much prefer Byrne's idea of Lex always going after Lois but never being able to get her. It made Lois such a nice sore spot between Lex and Clark. Also, we have Lois get the first story on Superman, as opposed to Clark. Finally, there is the whole issue of Luthor being from Smallville. Maybe it's the Smallville fan in me, but I really like this last bit. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out, but I'm enjoying it. Alright, enough for my continuity gripes, on to the story.

We get to see Luthor being Luthor again. It has been years, probably over ten, since we have seen Luthor be bad like this. Luthor destroying Metropolis was probably the last instance, and even that wasn't real Luthor (not to mention that Happersen was the one that launched the final missiles, extremely lame). It was great to see Lex doing something small scale and just evil, like taking over some helicopters and turning them against Metropolis. Then the interaction between Superman and Luthor was perfect. Luthor was cool and logical like he should be. I liked the idea of him looking for a technological reason for Clark's powers, and Luthor's attempted legal defense also rang true for the character. Superman responds perfectly. He isn't physically violent, but he's a little mean. Just like someone who had just seen nineteen people shot would be. He recognizes that he really can't haul Luthor off to jail, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to threaten him. Absolutely perfect (note: Joe Kelly, read this issue, then read it again, and then a few more times, and then go and write your next issue and maybe your Clark will be remotely correct). Having Lois and Jimmy sneak around was also very nice. So few writers actually portray them as reporters anymore that it was a good change of pace. Finally, Lex is using what I am assuming is Kryptonite (was that block green? I'm colorblind) as a power source. And the block just happens to have the symbol on it. As much as I don't like having the S come from Krypton, this is perfect. Now Luthor has a reason to use green K on Superman. Plus, we got a wink. How much better can it get? Waid, you are doing a fantastic job, keep it up.

4Art - 4: And the art is almost perfect as well. The only thing I really didn't like was the second page and the picture of Superman shot into the pavement. It just didn't look good to me. Other than that though, this was perfect. Luthor looked fantastic, and the entire scene between Superman and Luthor was marvelously done with the light and shadows. There really isn't much I can say other than I like it. It's not my favorite by any means (oh if only Jurgens and Breeding were doing this art) but I definitely like it, and it fits the story well.

4Cover Art - 4: I was really torn on what to give this cover. First off, I like it. There isn't a background, but there is enough in the foreground that it doesn't matter. Luthor looks...fantastic. The look in his eyes and that sinister grin are just perfect. Luthor has never looked more like, well, Luthor. I take one point away because Lois just looks a little stupid, and when was she panicked in this issue anyway? Superman doesn't look great, but he looks ok and I can deal with it. Overall a good cover, but if they had taken Lois out and replaced her with the Metropolis horizon complete with the attacking helicopters then it would have gotten a 5. Still, it's a good cover that I like very much.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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