Overview

Superman: Secret Origin #6

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Superman: Secret Origin #6

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns
  • Art: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Aug 25, 2010

Because of the lengthy delay between issues #5 and #6, most readers will likely have to go back and refresh themselves with Geoff Johns' Superman: Secret Origin prior to today's publication of the final installment; however, like Mark Waid and Grant Morrison before him, Johns has crafted a timeless Superman narrative that makes the rereading all the  more enjoyable.

While it may not be immediately apparent, Superman is a difficult character to write because of his infallibility and lengthy publication history.  Few moments stand out in Superman history that audiences can point to as genre defining or redefining in some instances.  Within recent memory, Waid's Superman: Birthright and Morrison's All Star Superman are probably the most recognizable and celebrated for longtime fans and even casual readers.  And, even though this is not Johns' first time with the character, Superman: Secret Origin, particularly issue #6, illustrates Johns' greatest strength as a writer—his ability to avoid derivation or simplistic pastiche and to present the familiar as innovative.  Abandoning cynicism for satire in certain sequences, Johns takes the foundational myths established during the Golden and Silver Ages, the creativity of John Byrne's series, and, most importantly, the visual depictions from television and film to craft a Superman that is immediately recognizable yet different enough to be engaging for old and new readers alike. 

Superman: Secret Origin #6 opens with General Lane's takeover of the Daily Planet and subsequent lockdown under martial law.  Outside of the building, Superman engages a hostile military force who believes him to be an alien threat, a notion largely spurred on by Luthor's devious machinations.  For generations weaned on Christopher Reeve as Superman, one cannot help but experience a sense of pure joy as Gary Frank's homage stands his ground against the soldiers.  Of course, the greatest threat is the resurgence of Metallo and even though kryptonite has definitely seen its day as a weapon, Johns deserves credit here for not simply falling back on it as a crutch. 

This is Superman at his very best and it unfortunately and unintentionally spotlights some of the problems of writer J. Michael Straczysnki's recent ongoing monthly efforts in Superman.  Audiences can immediately connect with Johns' portrait and throughout the series, Johns has laid a foundation that has allowed observers to grow and evolve alongside the Man of Steel despite the fact that most of what is being told has been done many times before.  The difference is, however, that Johns, like Waid and Morrison, possesses the uncanny ability of repackaging these stories to make them fresh, significant, and important for contemporary readers.  From issue #1 to the present, Johns has never lost sight of what Superman's greatest power is—instilling hope.  This isn't a superficial hope in an external savior or a pop-psychology discovery of the inner self, but rather grounding Superman's iconography as a symbol of hope in our own reality. 

Superman Secret Origin is a worthy heir to Superman Birthright and All Star Superman in the growing canon of stellar Superman stories.  Although some might be weary of DC revisiting the "definitive" origin aspect of Superman once again, the fact remains that as a commodity and property, Superman has been declining in the years in comic sales.  With little aid from film or television representations, Superman has been left to his own devices within the pages of comics.  Geoff Johns has made an important statement and contribution with this mini-series, and if DC wants the character to achieve his primary place atop the hierarchy as the premier superhero in the genre, they need look little further than Johns' latest offering.

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