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Superman For All Seasons

I hate to admit it, but I am truly starting to hate television. Apart from the greatness produced by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 Box Set: you will be mine!) I find little to enjoy about the idiot box nowadays.

But I do enjoy my comics. So when Smallville was set to premiere on the WB, guess who was waiting with baited breath and wearing his Superman boxers? (I'll give you a hint: starts with an "S" ends with a "parling.")

So I watched, saw how badly written/acted it was, and returned to the dark depths of my comic collection. Maybe it's me, but I just can't believe in a Superman that can't fly. Thankfully, if one is looking for a far better tale of the formative years of Clark Kent, look no further than Superman For All Seasons, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale.

This book was one of Loeb and Sale's first collaborations (others being Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory) and it is a spectacular demonstration of the "man" inside Superman.

The story itself is broken into four parts: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter (hence the title), and each segment of the story is told in the E! True Hollywood Stories fashion: by someone who knows Superman.

The first is told by Pa Kent, and that's where we really get a glimpse of Clark's teen years. We see a Clark Kent that is shy, introverted by his powers and often frightened of what is happening to him. One scene, in which Clark goes to get a haircut and the scissors break in the barber's hands, really shows the reader that Clark is afraid of what he's becoming. As much fun as flying is, being different really sucks.

Sale helps develop this theme when he draws Clark as a lumbering giant, and yet the young Mr. Kent will look so "small" when Sale is depicting one of Clark's vulnerable moments. He is trying to show that Clark didn't always have the confidence he displays as Superman; that it was built up over time, largely due to the love of his parents and an eventual revelation that perhaps he is meant to help people.

The book is also about Superman's naiveté when he was just beginning. Artistically, Sale helps make this apparent by making Clark appear simplistic when compared to everyone else in the book. From Lois Lane to Lex Luthor (alliteration: the forgetful writer's greatest mnemonic device, just ask Stan Lee), Sale draws the rest of the cast with larger eyes, more face lines, and a greater overall degree of detail to demonstrate that they are all a little more "lived" than Clark, which is a nifty little art trick that Sale pulls off well. Sale also pulls off some other artistic feats: one being the act of giving Lex Luthor hair (see fanboys? Gene Hackman really was perfect casting), the other drawing one of the best renditions of Lois Lane that I have ever seen. I can compare it only to the work done by the original Superman team of Siegel and Shuster: it is that beautiful.

I have only discussed the first chapter in detail and I leave the rest for you to discover. Loeb and Sale make a great team and I have never failed to love their collaborations. Should you choose to pick up Superman For All Seasons, you get the option of choosing between two formats. It was originally collected in a very attractive hardcover for $25, and believe me, I was tempted, but I held out for the more recent release of the trade-paperback version at a much more frugal $15.

Here at Fanboy Planet, you can split the difference: Amazon is offering the hardcover for $17.47.

Superman for All Seasons

Robert Sparling

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