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Superman: Birthright #9

Superman: Birthright #9

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 7, 2004

Cover date: June 2004

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

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Lois runs around Metropolis, asking everyone where Superman is, but every time she just misses him. Finally, she stumbles onto a drug ring on a ship outside of Metropolis. As the crooks fire at her Superman finally makes his appearance, deflecting the bullets at the last moment. As he blasts the drugs with his heat vision the leader yells out to him that they have a proposition. Their boss wants to make an alliance so they have an operations network when the alien invasion comes. Superman responds by dropping the ship into the boss' swimming pool.

Flying back to Metropolis, Lois tells him that despite what Luthor says, she believes that he is a good man who is just here to help. Lois tells him that not many people know that Luthor is a bad guy. Then she asks if Superman really is an alien and he tells her that he is.

Lois walks inside and finds Clark at his desk. He is instant messaging with his mother about the things that have been going on since Luthor made his invasion claim. Ma says that the images Luthor is showing are consistent with what is shown in the electronic book that was in the rocket, so he is definitely getting information from somewhere. Clark knows that the green meteorite has something to do with it, and he's going to find out what. Clark heads for the roof.

Lois asks Jimmy about the possibility of Luthor faking the images, but Jimmy says that they are just too good. Lois thinks for a moment, and then asks him to get her some star charts.

At Luthor's base the military is fully deployed to protect Luthor from the 'threat' of Superman. Suddenly a blue blur streaks through the sky and burrows into the ground. The men with Luthor run out of the room, leaving Luthor alone when suddenly Superman bursts through the ceiling and welds the door shut. Superman asks what this is about, and Luthor tells him that it is Project Krypton. When Superman asks what Krypton is Luthor begins to laugh as he realizes that Superman really doesn't know where he is from.

Superman can only look on in shock as Luthor callously tells him that his entire world and everyone on it has been dead for years. Touching a keypad, Luthor initializes the display and the two men find themselves surrounded by images of Krypton. Superman slams Luthor into the wall and asks him where the transmitter is. Luthor tells him that it probably isn't a good idea for him to go looking for it. He tells Superman about Kryptonite, the irradiated remains of his homeworld that are completely poisonous to him.

Superman asks Lex why he is doing this, and Luthor tells him that no one humiliates him. Superman tells Luthor that he is crazy, but Lex says he's the only sane man in the world. As the army breaks through the door Superman vanishes.

Back in Metropolis Clark buys a newspaper when suddenly people start to scream as a giant spider with the S symbol on its chest begins to attack Metropolis.

2Story - 2: This story was a lot of good, but a lot of bad too. The main thrust of this issue was Luthor telling Clark about Krypton, and it worked beautifully. Around that though, everything just fell apart. The idea of Luthor knowing about Krypton first and having Superman's arch-enemy be the one to tell him that his world is dead and gone is a great touch. It shows Luthor being cruel just because he can, and the pain caused by this gives Clark a good reason to really hate Lex.

It was nice to see Lois doing her chase around town to find Superman (even if it was handled much better the first time in Man of Steel #2) and it's also great that Superman and Lois got another chance to talk. That's one more thing that Birthright is missing, the initial interview with Lois. However, this whole series feels like it is moving too slowly. For the second or third issue in a row it feels like barely anything was accomplished in an issue. This has been stretched way to thin.

My main gripe though is Waid's insistence on placing this story this year. There's one big rule that you have to follow with these stories. You never, ever give the character a definite age. And here, right in the new 'official' Superman origin (something which I will never accept) there is a newspaper dated February 12, 2004. So now Superman is a rookie as of two months ago. So when I buy my next issue of Action Comics Superman has only been in Metropolis for a few months? This is exactly why you can't assign dates, especially to an origin. It just makes things too complicated. On top of this, there are all the little references that Waid throws in to remind you of the current setting. More internet use comes up with Clark instant messaging with Ma. Now even if you aren't bothered by the fact that this is just stupid, its one of the least secure means of communication there is. I don't care if he puts '//Encrypted' every time he has one of these sequences, it is just flat out stupid to have Clark announcing his secret over the internet, especially when he could fly home to Kansas in two minutes. Then there is Lex's cell phone. The line about 'using his cell phone camera' was so horribly written that it made me cringe. Waid is trying to do what Bendis did with Ultimate Spider-man a few years ago, but there are two big differences. First, Ultimate Spidey was a complete revamp, not a half-way redo like this one. Second, Bendis never tried to cram it down your throat like this. Waid couldn't be more obvious if there was a big banner announcing, 'It's 2004!' in every single panel. It's annoying, its pointless, and it is going to end up doing more harm than good.

Regardless of the rant-of-the-month against all things Birthright (and just you wait till the series is over and I can really go off against it), I still have to acknowledge that Waid wrote good dialog between Luthor and Superman. However, he just had to ruin that with a giant, Kryptonian robotic spider. Yes that's right, A GIANT ROBOTIC SPIDER with the Superman symbol on its chest. I wish I was making this up. Once again these grandiose plans that we are led to expect from Luthor just fall flat. A few months ago it was Luthor's entire attack on Superman being a bomb on a bridge and a chunk of Kryptonite. Here we could have had Kryptonian battleships attacking the earth, or armored soldiers, or any number of things better than A GIANT ROBOTIC SPIDER. I actually came away liking this issue (apart from annoying Birthright-series traits) until I got to that last page. Every now and then I write a review and I have to write something that I just shouldn't be forced to write. Giant robotic Kryptonian spiders definitely fall into that category. And before everyone emails me telling me that Luthor built it and it's not Kryptonian, I know. That doesn't make it any better. This one had promise for an enjoyable story, and it got ruined by the last page.

3Art - 3: This time around the art really didn't do anything for me. Lex looked too gaunt and skeletal in a bunch of his pictures and overall this rough look with the heavy blacks just isn't working. A few decent pages, and Lois tends to look good, but beyond that it's only average at best.

3Cover Art - 3: Same deal as the interior art. The cover itself is ok, although I think Superman and Luthor facing off amidst the scenes from Krypton would have fit the issue better (at least the Spider doesn't make an appearance). Superman looks kind of awkward and the guy in the lower right corner has that expression Yu likes to give people where they look like they either unhinged their jaw or got a case of that constipation that was plaguing Superman back when Nowlan was doing the covers on issues of Adventures. It wasn't horrible, but I definitely didn't like it either.

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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