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.