Superman for All Seasons
Jeph Loeb, writer,
Tim Sale, artist
(DC Comics, 1998)

I'll admit, I'm not terribly fond of Tim Sale's art. His style is just a little too cartoony, even for a comic book, and his depiction of Clark Kent/Superman is bulky, graceless, big and dumb.

By the time I finished Superman for All Seasons, a four-part book written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Sale, I was about ready to eat my words. Oh, I stand by the opinion, but that bulky, graceless style began to work for me, somehow. And when you look beyond the big, dumb guy on center stage, you notice just how right Sale's postures and expressions are, how richly detailed his background scenes.

The story begins in the spring, and Clark is newly settled in his powers. He's less settled in his own skin, however -- he's not sure yet who he is or where his future lies.

As the seasons progress, Clark leaves Smallville, his parents and friends for Metropolis, where he hopes to define his future. Each book in the series is narrated from a different point of view -- Pa Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Lana Lang -- and each is in a good position to observe Clark at that time.

There is action and danger here, but the series isn't really about that. Clark knows how to be super; he's learning how to be Superman. To accomplish that, he must match wits with fellow reporter Lois and future nemesis Lex. Likewise, at times he falls back to his safe haven and comfortable friends, relying on his parents, Lana and others to ground him as events swirl beyond his experience.

Superman for All Seasons is a pleasant, low-key book which, in the end, will likely stick with you far longer than the usual book about supervillains and massive brawls.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 17 November 2001

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