Hot Hot Books - September 23rd, 2009

As summer comes to an end, we enter prime comic book reading season. Just a few reasons why you should get excited for the turning of leaves and turning of pages:
  1. It's getting colder, meaning you are less likely to ruin your comics with sweaty palms.
  2. It's not too cold, so you won't be putting off your weekly visits to the comic book store.
  3. Did I mention there are a ton of awesome books coming out in the next few months?
Our favorite talented artists and writers are surely pale creatures, as they have been working all summer on exciting projects coming this fall. Criminal (2006) and Powers (2000) will make their triumphant returns, plus we still have the ongoing Blackest Night to supply us with our epic universe-altering fix. But as far as new series, there is one in particular that I have had my eye on since it was solicited (offered for order to vendors for those of you outside of the comics retail world), and that book is Superman: Secret Origin (see image below, cover for issue 1).

You may be thinking "Another Superman origin story?" Didn't we just have one of those a few years ago, called Superman: Birthright (2003)? Or how about the brilliant Superman: Red Son (2003) mini series that re-imagined Superman as a communist crusader? If this project were given to anyone else, I might be apprehensive about Secret Origin. But with  Geoff Johns writing and art by Gary Frank, the task of retelling the well-known origin story could not be in more capable hands. This team has proven time and time again that they can deliver exciting stories, even when working with an old concept (and let's face it, when it comes to Superman, there's precious little new ground to break).

My faith in this team comes primarily from their work on Superman and the Legion of Superheroes, a six issue story arc originally presented in Action Comics issues #858-863. The story shows a young and lonely Clark Kent finding friends in visitors from the 31st century, called the Legion of Superheroes. As an adult, Clark begins to wonder why they have failed to revisit him, only to be warned that he can never contact his once dear friends. Despite their warnings, Superman decides to fight for his companions, unaware of what dangers he will face in the future. Gary Frank's illustrations perfectly capture the alienation felt by both the adolescent Clark Kent, and the adult hiding behind his bumbling nerd persona. With Geoff Johns writing, this  story feels like you're watching a Superman film directed by Steven Spielberg. What results is a touching, wholesome, and uncomplicated Superman tale, without seeming safe or oversimplified. This story proves you can still entertain without pushing the limits, a theory hard to prove in comics today. It is also rare to read a thoroughly enjoyable and humorous comic series that I could recommend to anyone, regardless of their age or previous Superman knowledge.

The six issue Superman: Secret Origin mini series promises the return of the Legion of Superheroes (see above image, cover to the second issue), and also offers a look at other younger Smallville inhabitants, including Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, and Lex Luthor. It should be interesting to see how Johns and Frank explore Superman's journey from orphan in Kansas to superhero in Metropolis, and the series will no doubt bring new life to this well-known mythos. Expect the first issue next week!

Find more on Superman and the Legion of Superheroes here.