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Why You Should Read: SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT

Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu joined forces to create what is easily one of the best Superman stories of all time.

We here at Comic Vine alternate who will write "Why You Should Read" and this week, it's up to me to recommend a topnotch story. Seeing as Man of Steel comes out this week, I felt it was my duty to pick a story arc worthy of Superman's greatness. There are some truly superb choices out there, but for me, 'Birthright' is one of the best. It's a must read story if you love Superman. It's a must read story if you want to learn about Superman. And, last but certainly not least, it's a must read story if you just want to read a terrific tale. It's gripping, beautiful and a brilliant revamp of the legendary character's origin story.

Back in 2003, this twelve-issue series served as the new (and canon at the time) retelling of Kal-El's origin. I know, I know... we've seen Clark's early years and his path to becoming Superman countless times before, but I promise you, Mark Waid pulls it off masterfully. The writer avoids a "been there, done that" feeling by creating an all-new path which inspires Clark to do more with his abilities. I won't spoil any of the aspects, but it's definitely a refreshing change of pace and an excellent way to set him on the right path. From there, Waid provides an clever explanation for Clark's "disguise" and completely justifies how it's more elaborate than simply putting on a pair of glasses. Many tend to think people are foolish for not seeing through the somewhat simple disguise, but I assure you, reading this will completely change your mind on the matter.

From there, Kal heads to Metropolis and Waid does a first-class job creating an engrossing relationship between Big Blue and Lex Luthor, greatly expanding upon their history and eventual rivalry. Additionally, his take on having Clark's career path with the Daily Planet plays out in an incredibly amusing and somewhat unexpected manner. On top of all this, the book dives fairly deep into Krypton's society and it's clear Man of Steel is drawing some inspiration from this storyline.

Waid manages to juggle all of these different plot points very, very well, giving the limited-series phenomenal pacing and it all builds up to quite a triumphant finale. Even if you haven't read the story, the image below won't ruin the moment when you experience it in context. Scenes like that make you want to cheer out loud and there's at least of handful of 'em scattered throughout this journey. And then there's the ending. I'm not going to lie... I can't help but tear up a bit every time I read that part. It's a strong emotional punch after a series of totally thrilling events and it's truly the perfect way to top off this masterpiece.

The artwork delivers on all of these powerful moments Waid's script offers, too. Whether it's a scene driven by an emotional conversation or Superman fighting for his life, Leinil Francis Yu, Dave McCaig and Gerry Alanguilan beautifully bring these moments to life and make them feel dynamic. Yu has a very unique and detailed style which is perfectly complimented by Alanguilan's distinct outlines and McCaig's vibrant colors. The trio creates some legitimately breathtaking and cinematic moments -- everyone involved in the visuals brought their "A" game and it certainly shows.

'Birthright' illustrates why Superman is such an iconic character and someone we should all strive to be like. It's heroic, truly inspiring and I loved reading each and every page of it. Do yourself a favor and read this as soon as possible. And if you've already had the luxury of reading it, go ahead and read it again. There's plenty of debate over what the "best" Superman story is -- and understandably so -- but there's no denying 'Birthright' absolutely deserves a solid spot in that discussion.

53 Comments
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Posted by TheAcidSkull

My first Superman Story ever, and still the best.

Posted by Shallbecomeabattoo

After All Star Superman, this is my favorite! So sad that DC let Mark Waid go to Marvel! He would be soooooooooooooooo great on a Superman ongoing!

Posted by ravisher

wheres half that kids body?

Posted by UltimateSMfan

Easily my favourite...so far, Love this story!

Posted by Dernman

I can't remember if I read it or not. >__>

Online
Posted by dcguy

@shallbecomeabattoo: Not just Superman , his JLA run is my all time favorite Justice League title

Posted by Pokeysteve

his stuck with me more than any other Superman story. It's just a wonderful read.

Posted by VioletPhoenix

Lifts the spirits and warms the heart. Birthright is boss.

Posted by Rick_Grayson

Never read a Superman comic, always preferred Batman. But, after reading this I've just ordered Birthright. Let's see how it goes!

Edited by DonFelipe

Birthright gets better and better with each issue and every read!

Posted by Shallbecomeabattoo

@dcguy: Yeah, his JLA was great, even if I still think Kellys run that followed Waids was even better.

In the end, lets face it... Waid would be great on everything DC related. Just look at Kingdom Come, to see what a great understanding he has for the DC pantheon. Really hope he doesn't stay Marvel exclusive for long, as much as I love his Daredevil run.

Posted by Dark_Vengeance_

I've heard a lot of good things about this story and I definitely want to read it now.

Posted by SandMan_

Waid should write the sequel to MOS.

Posted by Billy Batson

I was right!

BB

Online
Posted by Michael_Moran

I guess I should read it again...i wasn't a fan of this when I read it. I found it boring.

Posted by kennybaese

I'm sad to say that I've never really read this book. I'm picking up this and secret identity today as preparation for Man of Steel this weekend.

Posted by ltbrd

I thought Birthright did a good job of laying groundwork and ideas for Superman in how they presented his values, understanding of Krypton, and so on. The early years stuff was great and delivered amazing impact.

But once the story shifted to Metropolis it didn't stay together as well as I'd hoped it would. I thought the reaction of Metropolis to Superman's appearance was okay, but Secret Origins I think had the more "real-world" response (which, btw, seems to be where Man of Steel is also getting some of its ideas from as the military response in the film is much closer to Secret Origins than Birthright or Earth One), but the depictions of Lois and Lex just didn't feel right and I'm not a fan of overplaying "meek Clark". Once again an origin story showcased a Lois Lane that I just don't see Clark falling in love (Secret Origins was okay but I thought Earth One probably had her best initial depiction to date) with and Lex is made too much a mad (literally) scientist than what makes him Superman's greatest enemy and his actions are too ridiculous to really make him seem a threat. However I thought Jimmy Olsen was well depicted.

However, I can't deny that it is a fun read and I go back to it on occasion for the great action scenes and page panels which are beautiful to look at. The art certainly didn't suffer a bit. Everything looked great.

Posted by G_Money_Christmas

This makes me want to go back and re-read it. It was a great story.

Posted by impossibilly

Birthright is on sale right now on Comixology for $0.99/issue.

Posted by st3ady

yeah haha where the heck is the rest of that kids body

Posted by StMichalofWilson

Good Superman story!

Posted by Eternal19

It was an okay Story. I kinda lost interest in the middle of it and the constant use of kryptonite got annoying

Posted by MSchiwal

Haha. I literally just finished reading this before I came on the site today.

I really enjoyed the book and it is in my top 5 favorite Superman stories. I agree that the ending was very emotional, granting closure that I always wanted and never knew that I needed.

Posted by The Stegman

The greatest Superman origin ever.

Edited by redhood21

never read it...now i will. :D

Edited by Mild_Karl

I'm convinced, the TPB is in my Amazon cart right now.

Birthright is on sale right now on Comixology for $0.99/issue.

This might happen instead but it's only $4 more for a physical copy which is nice...

Posted by ptigrusmagus

Just got Dark Victory today but a Supes novel is something I should get. Wish Yu was still on Indestructible Hulk.

Edited by dngn4774

It's a great Origin but my favorite Superman story was "For the Man Who Has Everything" by Alan Moore.

Posted by BaneStrokeLoboGrundyBatArrow

Looks good

Posted by Onemoreposter

They made Superman a vegetarian in this story. I know it's silly but that always bothered me......

Otherwise, despite the fact that it tried to replace the far superior Man of Steel as Superman's definitive origin, it was alot of fun.

Posted by DocGroove

Never got around to reading this story but I'll definitely look into it!

Posted by paralaxsteve

I've never really considered reading this story arc but after reading this article I just might pick it up when I go to buy my next graphic novel.

Posted by Bruce_Kent12

Sounds cool

Posted by lykopis

This has been recommended to me a few times and I've procrastinated enough. I guess it's time to roll up my sleeves and get some Superman reading under my belt so I can see for myself what is so great about the character.

I'm picking up Birthright this weekend and I have high expectations.

Posted by Foxdye

Birthright is a MUST READ for any comic book fan. My best friend read it when I bought many years ago and he loved it....and he's team Marvel 100%

Posted by yo_yo_fun

I haven't had a chance to read this yet but it's on my summer reading list:)

Posted by sora_thekey

@impossibilly said:

Birthright is on sale right now on Comixology for $0.99/issue.

Just bought it... Maybe now I'll like Superman.

Posted by impossibilly

@sora_thekey: Cool. I hope you like it. I think out of the various Superman origin stories, it holds up the best...well, maybe with the exception of Issue 1, page 1 or All-Star Superman. :)

Edited by RedheadedAtrocitus

One of the best origin stories for Supes for some time. A must read for anyone who appreciates the Superman mythos, like me.

Edited by SupermanJohnathanKentJr

I think Birthright is better than Red Son, is the second best Superman story All-star is first, Red Son is third) and the ending made me cry.

Edit: Oh whoa, I'm finishing up the article and it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who cried on the ending heh heh

Posted by SupermanJohnathanKentJr

@kennyshat: Secret Identity is great! Probably my 4th favorite Superman comic

Posted by MrMiracle77

This was really just an effort to make a Superman comic that fell more in line with what was happening in Smallville at the time. It was just on a scale that the tv show didn't have a budget for.

Yet another in a long line of alternate origins.

Posted by z1co80

My second favourite Superman story after Superman: Secret Identity

Edited by JamesKM716

Currently downloading every issue for the road trip tomorrow.

Wonder if it'll measure up to All Star and Earth One

Posted by Glitch_Spawn

Just read my copy of the last issue. The ending is so good!

Supes holding that huge tank over his head was classic as well!

Posted by kartron

Like the article. I do have this book... so glad... will get into reading it right away...

Posted by paralaxsteve

Woke up this morning to find that my daughter had brought this for Father's Day

Posted by Lone_Wolf_and_Cub

I'm not even really a huge Superman fan but this story is by far one of the best Supe stories of all time.

Edited by jaybefre

Wow! What a great read!!! I have read Red Son and All-Star Superman with the latter being my favorite but after reading this Birthright is my new favorite. I love the modern take on Superman and Yu's artwork is perfect. Waid is an incredible writer! Loved this!!!

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