Monday, October 26, 2009

Superman: Secret Identity

One of the best reads I've had in the past few years was Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Buseik and Stuart Immomen. Buseik brilliantly reinvented the Superman / Clark Kent character by jettisoning all the crazy baggage he's accumulated over the past 70 years. The result is a sympathetic, believable Superman, which arguably hasn't been seen since his first appearances. Buseik also demonstrated that Clark Kent is the "real" person in the stories, not Superman.

The story starts out in the "real world" with the rather silly concept of a normal boy named Clark Kent. Young Clark goes through his childhood handling all the Superman jokes in a good-natured way until one night when he discovers he can fly. He keeps his secret, as hard as that might be for a teen-age boy, when he learns the hard way how others want to profit from the knowledge. In this world, Superman becomes the secret identity, not Clark Kent.

Immomen's sketchy, realistic style and mood-setting coloring pick up where the words are unable to travel. In his own way, Immomen's drawings are more convincingly real than the life-like paintings of Alex Ross. Buseik clearly understands the power of using no words in a powerful sequence of visual storytelling by Immomen. This book is simply the perfect melding of writer and artist.

I find these gems at our awesome public library. I just might hit the comic shops more often, but I like to go with my kids. While things are improving, there's just too small a selection for them. And I just can't physically shield them from stuff like Marvel Zombies. So I discover things late, but the library, while not having much in the way of discriminatory tastes in trade paperback comic books, is enough for me.
We did attend the local, semi-annual comics convention this weekend. The kids walked away happy with several Archie, Richie Rich, Casper, Hot Stuff and Donald Duck comics. But what was sad is that they felt like they needed to keep their eyes down a lot, afraid that they'd see some gross or scary comics. I dunno, maybe we'll have to start up a Kids' Comics Convention, like they've done in New York.


  1. i actually stumbled upon this by browsing the catalog on wikipedia and this series appeals to me the most.

    i haven't had the chance to read this however cause it's nowhere in our library, sadly. and on amazon the cheapest you can get it is at $71!

    would love to get my hands on it someday.

    glad you enjoyed it.

  2. You might consider an inter-library loan. It's called ILLiad, and you can do a search of libraries nationwide to find one that has the trade paperback, which compiles the four issues. Your library can borrow it from another library, usually for a nominal fee of a dollar or two. Check with your librarian or there may be a link on your library's website.