Thursday, March 30, 2006


I'm sure a lot of you have read Mark Waid's Birthright. It was sort of a big deal when it came out. A big part of that was the whole "this is the new definitive origin of Superman" thing. The problem is, it doesn't seem to work.

Birthright's a good story and all, but it lacks something that John Byrne's Man of Steel had. Though I can't really put my finger on what that something is.

See, Birthright seems to try too hard in a lot of ways. It tries to bend things that don't really make sense with the current orientation of continuity. Granted, a lot of that might be changed in the aftermath of Infinite Crisis. But if it is then a lot of good stories from the past twenty years will be pretty much invalidated. Besides just the continuity, Birthright adds a lot of things that just don't work with Superman. The big one is "Clark Kent as vegetarian."

Full disclosure: I am a Midwesterner. Until recently, my whole life was spent in central Illinois. The way I grew was about as close to growing up a farm as you can get without actually growing up on a farm. In a way, I am Clark Kent. I was brought up with all the same truth, justice, and the American Way virtues drilled into me. And I didn't know a single vegetarian.

That's not to say there weren't any. It's just that for me (a genuine Midwesterner) the idea of a Midwesterner who doesn't eat meat is a lot less plausible than the idea of a man who can fly.

The other thing about Birthright that rang hollow was the "Lex in Smallville" bit. I know they were trying to synch things with the Smallville television series. They shouldn't have to do that, but I can see why they'd try. That being said, it doesn't really work. Maybe in a Pre-Crisis world Lex Luthor as friends with Clark Kent would make sense. But in this day and age? It just doesn't work.

So Luthor pays off an entire town to forget him? Uh huh. He grows up alongside Clark Kent but can't put two and two together? Suuuure... Those are just a couple of the many things about that bit that don't make a lick of sense. But that's just me.

I enjoyed Birthright. I really did. It's got a lot of those "look how completely awesome Superman is" moments that I totally dig. But I'm still displeased that it's being shoehorned as the "definitive" Superman origin. Because it just doesn't work...


At 8:44 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Is it still the "definitive" origin? With all this Crisis stuff, I thought that a lot of things like that were up in the air.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said...

I have a lot of problems with Birthright, and a long tirade on it waiting somewhere in the back of my brain, and while you've touched on two of those problems, my major gripes were mainly with the resurrection of the Silver Age in toto when we were supposd to have something "new" and "exciting" (I mean, come on, the indestructible costume? Ugh.), and with the concept of soul-vision, which is possibly the worst Superman idea since he tore a cellophane S-shield off his chest in Superman II.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure they said that Birthright would set as the "definitive origin" via the new Crisis. It was said that IC Secret Files & Origins would smooth everything over.

So I guess that means that twenty years of continuity are gone because SBP punched a wall. Woo.

And yeah, sould vision was kind of silly to me too. Like I said, there was a lot of cool stuff in that story. But it felt more like a Superman in the Modern Era Elseworlds than it did a definitive origin...

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Marc Burkhardt said...

"Soul Vision" is a ludicrous super-power, but it's a great title for a Prince album. As far as losing 20 years of continuity goes, welcome to the world Superman fans of the Silver and Bronze ages endured after the original Crisis.


Post a Comment

<< Home