Superman: Kryptonite by Darwyn Cooke and illustrated by Tim Sale gathers the first five issues of Superman Confidential as well as issue 11. It tells the story of when Clark Kent first leaves Smallville for Metropolis and begins his life as Superman. Kent is new at the superhero world and is as of yet, unsure of the true extent of his powers and his invulnerability. He is also in the very early stages of his relationship with Lois Lane.
The story begins, being voiced by an unknown entity, as it follows the rocket sent to Earth from Krypton carrying the baby that would grow up to be Superman. Behind the rocket, a huge green rock follows, entrapped within an alien being. The parallel between the two as they both travel to Earth lays the groundwork for the story. While the baby is rescued by the Kents and raised, the being inside the Green rock is taken to a monastery where he is worshipped until a treasure comes and steals him away.
In Metropolis, Superman is facing the Royal Flush Gang when he is forced to stop a tanker truck. As he tries to carry it away, they attack, ripping the tanker open and causing a great explosion. He struggles with the tanker and the explosion but eventually saves the day. Unknown to Superman, he is being watched. Lex Luthor is monitoring his activities and in fact sent the Gang to face him. Luthor is gathering information on Superman, on his strengths and weaknesses.
Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, is given a mission by his editor Perry White. Along with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, they are sent to investigate this new investor and businessman Tony Gallo. White believes that Gallo is far more than the businessman he pretends to be. White believes the new Casino owner is actually a gangster who has been bribing his way into Metropolis.
The story of Tony Gallo unfolds. Businessman, investor, Casino owner, murderer, racketeer. In his mentally unstable mind, Gallo believes himself to be untouchable as he worships before the great green stone he has hidden in his suite. In the brand new Casino, Gallo has built, erected on a stand, is a 10 foot tall green meteorite from the planet Krypton.
There are several moments that make this series well worth the reading. The vulnerability in the man of steel. Superman is unsure, of himself and of others. His inability to commit to Lois is driving her away and his knowledge of his heritage as the last Kryptonian may yet drive a distance between himself and the Kents. Then there is his power. How limitless is it really? How strong is he? How much can he stand before he gets hurt?
Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are throwbacks to the original characters. The hard nose reporter who is not afraid to use her looks and charm to get her story. Jimmy Olsen is portrayed here as far more than a niave cub reporter and photographer but as something akin to a young street wise kid who can work the back alleys of Metropolis.
Luthor is diabolical in his methods and his desire to rid Metropolis of the alien menace. This is the real Luthor, not some joke of the man recently portrayed on the movie screen. No this is the powerful, ruthless businessman whose empire rules the city.
Then there is Gallo. What a terrific character. His violent and bloody past and his charm. This is a perfect foil for the good natured and well-mannered Clark Kent. This was a character that I would have liked to see go on in other books.
A terrific story by the late Darwyn Cooke and as always, the unique and brilliant artwork of Tim Sale.
If you missed this one, you missed one of the good ones.