Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale is one of those graphic novels that tell the best kind of superhero story. A story not about the superman, just a story about the man.
“…Folks tend to call him ‘The Man of Steel’ nowadays. I guess that he’s the most famous person in the world…Not that he was ever interested in being famous in the first place. ‘Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Change the course of might rivers. Faster than a speeding bullet.’ We knew he was special, but…People will talk. Believe it or not, there was a time before all that. When he was just a man’s son. My son. Clark Kent…”
Before Metropolis, there was Smallville. Before the big city lights, there were the fields of Kansas. Before Lois Lane, there was Lana Lang. Before Perry White, there was the Kents. The Kents. This is as much their story as it is that of Superman and Lex Luthor and the world that became enamored with its greatest superhero. It is the story of a child, a young boy who grows into a man and how he became that man. That Superman.
People who have watched his growth, who think they know something of the Last Son of Krypton, will argue that it was the time spent in the Fortress of Solitude. Those hours, that became days, that became weeks, that became months, where the young man spent in front of the crystals that taught him of his home world and the powers that were his. Hours before his biological father that taught him what it was to become Superman. But true readers of the book. True followers of Kal-El know that this could never be true. It is not the Kryptonian in Superman that makes him special. It is the human within Clark Kent. It is the Kents.
“…We drove over to the north field and found some kind of rocket ship. To this day. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. Inside it, there was a baby. A baby. And not a scratch on him. Never mind what kind of fool put’s a baby in a rocket in the first place. It takes an entirely different kind of thinking to then decide to keep the child and call it your own. But, that’s Martha for you. Stubborn as a mule. Twice set in her ways. Wonderful woman. Marry her all over again tomorrow if that’s what she wanted…”
Young Clark Kent learns of his abilities and knows he must leave Smallville to do the most good in the world. But what we see is that what he brings with him is not the great knowledge of a dead planet, but the heart and character of the people who raised him.
Loeb and Sale cast an intimate portrait of the man who would become Superman. They cut a slice of Americana out of this pie and offer it up. It is a welcome and wondrous retelling of the coming of age of a young Superman. It is also another reason why any book that has the names Loeb and Sale is a must read.