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Author Topic: I love Mark Waid's BIRTHRIGHT!  (Read 7746 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: April 01, 2007, 08:03:15 AM »

Am I the only one that really loved BIRTHRIGHT? I thought it was spectacular, everything I wanted. And I'm on the record as not usually being a fan of Mark Waid.

It performed an unusual balancing act that most comics can't do: it was respectful of the character's past but at the same time entirely original.

I don't know what it is about Lois Lane's hair being BLACK again that feels so "right," but it does.

Waid's Krypton had the spirit of the Silver Age "World of Krypton." It doesn't follow the LETTER of Kryptons Past and has a totally new design sense, but the idea of Krypton being a hostile "Wild West" planet that it took guts and civilization to settle is very much a subtext of Krypton that Waid cleverly picked up on and brought to the fore.

I did not like Loeb's "Return to Krypton" arc and the vision of Krypton it had, because it was pretty much "classic" Krypton...whose design sense and aesthetic is ridiculously out of date. They chose to pop a nostalgia-boner instead of showing initiative; instead of creating something new for the 21st Century they exhumed the long-since rotting corpse of the Fire Falls and Mt. Mundru and ASTOUNDING STORIES covers.

After "Return to Krypton," Waid's view of Krypton is exactly what the doctor ordered: something that is an interesting synthesis.

The thing that really sells me on BIRTHRIGHT is Waid's characterization of Luthor. The issue where he is introduced was one of the most spectacular debuts: Lex as misanthropic, misunderstood, and not truly evil. He and Clark Kent have a connection as two intelligent people (oh yeah, and they made Superman supersmart again. I've argued before he NEEDS to be supersmart or else the character makes no sense). You can feel Lex's RAGE when he felt Clark Kent, his only friend, was laughing at him.

Lex was wounded and childish, and very, very complicated. And the scene where Lex used his powers of deduction to reveal everyone's secrets (except Superman's) was spectacular. There was even a scene where Mark Waid even went to the trouble to explain WHY Lex never guessed Superman and Clark are the same.

They managed to do the impossible and made Lex Luthor BOTH a scientist AND a businessman. One of those "everybody's happy" scenarios like the one Geoff Johns came up with for Green Lantern: he has Kyle AND Hal be GLs again.

But what I think is most interesting is they made Lex FUNNY again. And he was funny in a cruel way: Lex pulling a camera phone to take Superman's picture when he revealed Krypton was destroyed, was a riot if you're like me and you have a dark sense of humor.

The fact BIRTHRIGHT was so very contemporary and MODERN was a wonderful thing. Superman isn't Doc Savage, who belongs in the era that birthed him. I get worried more than anything else when I see projects that place Superman in past ages, because being put back in another time is a sure sign you've stopped mattered.

In BIRTHRIGHT, we see a Sikh cab driver in a turban, an Asian girl with a nosering, and a red-haired guy with a briefcase point up and say "Look! Up in the sky!" A very accurate depiction of American life, which is diverse and is hardly black/white or Christian/Jewish anymore. Somehow, BIRTHRIGHT was worth it all to see Superman chatting on Instant Messenger. His screen-name? "Mildmannered99."

It was also kinda neat to see a Metropolis that was occasionally grimy and real and "American." People make a big fuss out of Metropolis being art deco and 1939 World's Fair, but the city to me works best when it was a punchy, streetwise, and savvy town as it was in the first SUPERMAN movie. One of the most annoying things about the 1990s is how they made Metropolis so vaguely Canadian: our national goody-goody older brother, who I might add, has never had a girlfriend.

What was interesting about BIRTHRIGHT was how startlingly unpredictable it was on occasion: the twists it gave to familiar stories that energized it with creative power. For instance, the idea that Jimmy Olsen might be in love with Lois Lane (which Waid wussed out of, but for those issues it existed it was an idea that was so obvious one wonders "why didn't anyone ever think of this before?"). Or Lex saying "Kryptonite weakens Superman. But that's not even the most impressive thing about it."

Is it Iron Age or (heh) "Mercury Age?" (I can't believe I just used that term.) Who cares? Like the animated series, BIRTHRIGHT draws on so many different sources and ideas that it has no single inspiration in any period. It would have been a spectacular blueprint for the character, and a Heck of an act to follow.

It is a shame - a CRYING shame - that BIRTHRIGHT is not the current, official Superman origin as it was intended to be; killed by mouthbreathing imbeciles regurgitating moron catchphrases like "Duh-hurr, 'Soul Vision' stupid." Or "Superman no eat meat bad." You can like or dislike vegetarianism or Superman's Aura-Perception, but to disregard a series on the basis on minor plot points? I give up, it's like trying to reason with the tiny brain dinosaurs had in their tails.

BIRTHRIGHT is ten times the comic ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is. It has ten times the understanding of the character, ten times the humanity. It actually DID what ALL-STAR SUPERMAN pretends to do: be a legitimate continuation of the character's spirit and themes.

Of course, immediately after, Mark "X-O Manwar" Waid said to himself, "well, this whole 'excellence' thing is great and all, but it's time to go back to being crappy!"

(Has anyone read Waid's EMPIRE? No? Just me? Okay.)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2007, 08:11:43 AM by JulianPerez » Logged

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Permanus
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2007, 08:59:15 AM »

Blimey, what does a guy have to do to make himself heard around here? I keep telling everybody what a good comic BIRTHRIGHT is.
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Klar Ken T5477
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2007, 04:00:23 PM »

I loved it myself.
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2007, 04:48:46 PM »

I Love Birthright too. I wish it was a complete revamp, with Waid and Morrison writing the two regular series and redefining all of Superman mythology, just like John Byrne and Marv Wolfman did after the Crisis, with complete creative control of every single detail. In comparison to Morrison's All Star Superman, it's more down to Earth story, but that's because Waid is more of a character oriented writer, while Morrison is concept oriented. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that where their work diverge. That been said, Waid have done concept stories like the fill ins Julian Stptember in JLA, and Morrison had grat character moments in the World War III. His Kyle Rayner was way better in JLA than in the Green Lantern title.  And yes, I've read the Empire series by Waid and Kitson, and now Hunter-Killer by Waid and Marc Silvestri. Great stuff.   
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2007, 04:53:28 PM »

Can you love Waid and only kinda like Yu?

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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2007, 05:16:01 PM »

A new Mark Waid/Bryan Hitch would be good. They've done a beautiful work on JLA, specially the tabloid sized Haven's Ladder. Too bad Hitch is now the Ultimates superstar...
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Klar Ken T5477
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2007, 08:31:11 PM »

I like Yul...............Brynner. Wink
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faunablues
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2007, 12:58:29 AM »

I love Birthright too. It was actually the first Superman comic I read.

The art's great, especially how people don't look like glamorous, happy gym members in every picture.

I think Superman's vegetarianism makes sense. He preserves life; he's a boyscout. And he's SUPERman, is giving up the beef bourginon so much to ask? The guy can fly. I think he can handle it.

The characters made more sense, and like the OP said, it's so much more modern. It's more real than most other comics, and unlike a few other comics, all the muscles on Superman's body actually exist.

I don't have a lot much else to add =P
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