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Superman: Birthright #7

Superman: Birthright #7

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 4, 2004

Cover date: April 2004

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

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

On Monday Clark finds himself left out of a Planet birthday celebration. On Tuesday he can't do anything to get Lois' attention. Wednesday finds the janitors ignoring him as they shut the lights off for the night. On Thursday Jimmy and Lois run into a restaurant and are greeted by many of the Planet staff. Lois thanks them for calling her and telling here about the change in restaurants, and asks who they ditched at the other one. Clark Kent. Lois weakly defends him as just being shy, but the rest of the Planet staff isn't quite so polite. They say he has absolutely no personality. From another restaurant Clark stops spying on the gathering and returns his glasses to his face. He sits alone at a large table with the remains of everyone else's meals.

Suddenly an explosion echoes out in the night and Clark is gone in a flash. The bridge begins to fall as suspension cables swing free. With a burst of speed and super strength Superman grabs the cables and holds the bridge together. Below, the citizens of Metropolis cheer for their hero.

Across town Luthor listens in before pressing a key. At the bridge another explosion shakes the bridge. As Clark realizes he isn't going to be able to hold it, the people down below think that Superman is destroying the bridge. Superman swoops down to catch falling motorists and their vehicles, but with another button press Luthor exposes a piece of rock and Superman goes tumbling towards the pavement. Seeing a woman hanging onto the edge he struggles to crawl forward and help her to safety. Using the last of his strength he saves the woman, and then falls over the edge and into the river below. Above, the green rock glows.

In Smallville, Clark and his mother both read the Daily Planet headline of Superman's supposed demolition of the bridge. Both have only one thing to say, "Luthor". Martha asks him about the pain he felt and Clark tells her that it is the exact same thing he felt when he was fifteen. Lex was connected to that occurrence too. Clark asks about records of Lex in Smallville, but Martha says that everything has been either destroyed or altered. There is no trace of Luthor's history in Smallville. As Jonathan walks in, he tells Clark that even people tend to change the subject when the Luthor name is brought up. Pa tells Clark not to blame himself, he did all he could to help Lex.

They all remember the first time Clark brought Lex over to the house. Clark tells his mother that Lex is new from Metropolis. Clark takes Lex out to the farm to show him around, and they found Jonathan working on the milking machine out in the barn. Lex crouched down beside the machine and within moments had it running more efficiently than ever before...and emitting a high pitched whine that panicked the cows. As Jonathan struggled to get them under control, Lex took off out of the barn with Clark on his heels.

Catching up to him, Clark apologized to Lex and asked him to see something cool. Taking him upstairs Clark showed Lex his telescope. After quizzing him, Lex finds Clark has a thorough knowledge of astronomy.

Lying out on the roof Clark tells Lex about the teachers at school. Lex finally tells Clark that he isn't going to fit in here. Clark jokingly asks if Lex means on Earth, but Lex becomes defensive and tells him he wouldn't understand. Clark tells him to be positive, but Luthor says that a farmboy couldn't know what it feels like. At that, Martha calls the boys in for dinner and Lex heads in the window.

Sitting in the same window, Clark's parents reminisce that Lex was good for Clark for awhile. It wasn't always the case, but when he could get him to have a real conversation Lex truly understood what Clark had to say. Clark says he can't even believe he's the same person except for the meteorite. Clark always assumed that Lex lost it in a fire and explosion, but what if he didn't?

In a secret lab, Luthor takes notes to himself. The bridge had been a gamble, risking a piece of the green rock, but it had paid off tremendously. Superman is vulnerable to the material, and that isn't even it's primary worth. Activating a screen Luthor watches as a picture forms. As a boy he had been at this exact same moment, but he had been denied. Now after 10 years he has reconstructed everything. A strange language drifts from the screen and Luthor activates his translator. Reports of a Phantom Zone, anti-gravity, and telepathic sensors emerge from the babble, as a picture of Krypton appears on the screen. Luthor smiles to himself. It was worth the wait.

3Story - 3: I will admit that the second time through this issue I enjoyed it much more than the first, but even so there were a number of things that didn't really feel quite right. First off there is the whole point of the issue. Luthor was supposed to be turning public opinion against Superman, getting the general populace to ostracize the alien. Instead we get two bombs on a bridge and a slice of Kryptonite. This was Luthor's master plan? This story was already done in Superman #10, and it was done a lot better than this. In that issue Superman was actually out of control, instead of just near the bridge when a bomb went off. Luthor is smart enough to come up with something better than this.

I like Clark's separation from the crowd at work, but it seems like Waid is going for the nerdy Clark too much. That was one of the best things about the Byrne revamp, the fact that Clark didn't need to act like a complete nobody in order to hide his secret. It's fine for Clark to be alone, this was shown very well in For All Seasons #2, but he shouldn't have to act like a complete pushover. Also, why isn't he scoring any Superman stories? He should be scooping everyone.

The Luthor flashback also annoyed me. If they are going to go with a Smallville-esque theme here, why do we get this annoying teenaged Lex? In Smallville Lex is a confident, competent man who can handle himself. In this issue he's a sullen teen who calls people names and then cries? This isn't what Luthor should be like, child or not. I am anticipating the next issue for the true origin of Luthor. His losing his hair in Smallville is one nod to the silver age that I will appreciate.

I did really like the last two pages as Luthor activates his machinery and learns of Krypton. It's a neat touch to have Luthor more involved with Krypton.

Overall, the issue has the right theme, but the actual execution of the ideas just falls short of my expectations. An average issue, although I'm definitely looking forward to Luthor's origin next month.

4Art - 4: Pretty much what we have come to expect in Birthright: mostly good art with a few bad panels. I don't like the way Jimmy looks, and teen Luthor is just... wrong but otherwise everything looked good. I particularly liked the telescopic vision effect they used, and the picture of Superman holding the bridge was great. As always, not the kind of art I'd want on a regular book, but it works well here.

3Cover Art - 3: I felt this was the weakest point of the issue. The art itself is only so so, with the inking too heavy and Superman looking too bulky. This cover just makes what is inside worse. This cover makes it look like Luthor is going to be waging a campaign against Superman and his image. I was expecting some grand plan from Luthor. Instead we got an exploding bridge. I did like the woman's expression, and there was a moderate background, so you've got to give them credit there. Still not a great cover and it didn't really fit the issue at all.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

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