And now we have gotten to the main star of these books: Kal-El, the last son of Krypton. We also know him by other names: Clark Kent and Superman. Out of all of these “battles,” this one is probably one of the hardest to do. I mean, it’s Superman! The book revolves around him and he’s actually pretty good in all of them.
Instead of doing what was done before, I going do something different. I’m splitting up this battle into three sections: Pre-Superman, the Reporter, and Superman. My decision will be in the final part.
Here, I’m much going to talk about Clark Pre-Superman. In all of these versions, we spend time with a young Clark or a Clark who is on the verge of becoming Superman. All of the origins bring something different in this aspect.
In MoS, we really only get the basics. His parents find him, he grows up, and he exhibits strange abilities. One thing about this version that’s different from all of the rest is the whole “football quarterback” thing. I see why some people have a problem with it. He’s using his power for something vain and he’s looking less relatable. I have no problem with it though. If I was in high school with those powers…well, “if you got it, flaunt it, brotha!” I also like the scene because Clark gets taught a lesson, learns his origin, and leaves Smallville in a matter of a couple pages. Unfortunately, we don’t spend too much time with a younger Clark because we skip a few years and he becomes Superman.
We pretty much get the same with the Nu52 Clark. We really don’t see much of his life in Smallville. We do get a couple of snippets of him there in the two-part origin and the backups. We see him get a couple of life-long lessons from Pa, his short time with the Legion, and his last day in Smallville. We find out why he wants to go into journalism and we see where he came up with that first suit. As I said, it’s not much but it’s something that’s pretty good.
Dang, Pa! Looking a little wrinkly there, eh?
Birthright probably has the most of the whole “Pre-Superman” phase. Since it’s a long and dense mini-series, we get to see a lot. We get an extended flashback on Clark’s and Lex’s friendship, which is something I really enjoyed. With Lex, Clark felt he could be more sincere with him, but not too sincere.
Then, we actually get to see Clark in his “post-Smallville, pre-Metropolis” phase. This is something that doesn’t get touched on at all in these origins except this one. We do get a mention or two in Secret Origin and MoS that Clark did traveling. Here, we really get an idea of what he did in his travels before Metropolis, and I like it. He’s making stories and saving people in the process. We also see his time on the farm as a teen and as an adult. We see a Clark who’s set on helping people and has an idea on how he will do it. He even helps Pa see his side of things and that helps repair their relationship.
Secret Origin takes another approach to Clark’s early years. It’s one of discovery with a bit of loneliness. Clark’s about 15 in the first two issues and it all starts off when he plays football and accidently breaks Pete’s arm. At this time, Clark is pretty scared of himself especially when he starts to exhibit stranger powers. His parents tell him the truth and he can’t accept it. He wants to be normal. It’s through saving Lana that he begins to accept his predicament. It’s also around this time where he gets the suit and decides that he wants to help people. He kind of wary of the suit though. Oh yeah, Superboy’s here Silver Age fans!!! Woo hoo.
Putting your 15 year-old in a cape and tights? Ma, you really want Clark to get picked on at school, don't you?
Because of this discovery and his ever-growing powers, he begins to put both Pete and Lana at a distance. Mind you, these events take place over a couple of weeks (?), so I guess he makes it up to them somehow because they’re still friends later on. It’s at this time where he meets the Legion and officially starts off his adventures with them. He also becomes more and more accepting to being a superhero in tights. Lastly, Krypto makes a cameo! Yay!!!!
As to which version of Clark’s life I like, I think I’m split between Birthright and Secret Origin. Both are pretty detailed and show all that goes into their respective Supermen. With Birthright, we get to see more of Clark’s life before the suit. Secret Origin mixes it up a bit. It’s a mix of Smallville, the Donner movies, and the Silver Age. It’s also where we actually see Clark have a realistic reaction to these powers. I mean, it would really suck to go all “Cyclops” whenever a hot woman passes by.
Clark: Well, that was weird. Wanna do it again?
The rest of the versions are good but too short especially Byrne’s version. It does the basics and that’s about it. I do remember reading somewhere that Byrne had to get Clark in the suit as quick as possible, so that’s probably why this version feels so basic and to the point. Morrison’s and Fisch’s version were just a couple of flashbacks. Still, they provided enough for what that certain book needed. Since this part has gone on and on for way too long, there is a separate post for the other sections.