Superman: Man of Steel
by John Byrne
(DC, 1988)

Superman is an American icon. In fact, there is probably no better-recognized fictional character in the world. So, considering the fact that Krypton's favorite son has had at least one monthly comic published on a regular basis for about the last 63 years, it might be called ludicrous to attempt to pinpoint the finest Superman work EVER.

Well, leave it to me, because I know what it is. DC Comics' The Man of Steel reprints the six-issue mini-series in which writer/artist John Byrne redefined the super-powered Kryptonian for a new generation of comic-book readers.

Byrne took the burned-out (at least to the readers) demi-god and turned him into a less powerful, but more 3-dimensional character, with much more appealing and stimulating supporting characters and surroundings. Gone was the near-divine "I'll move this planet off its axis myself" power that made every threat or villain appear a mere momentary bother, if not a joke altogether. The new Superman, though stocked up in the brawn department, was much more of a thinking man's hero. He had to be, as it was not unusual for Supes to have his head handed to him by a villain on the same power-level.

Byrne's art style was perhaps the most suitable ever for DC's flagship character. He seemed to be able to capture the strength and confidence of the character, while adding a certain fun, playful factor that Superman had not had since his inception. The range of emotions/expressions of Byrne's characters also benefited the book, allowing quite a lot of different types of stories to be told.

Most appealing about The Man of Steel, however, was the sense of "newness" it seemed to have. Origin, powers, stories, cast, it all seemed very fresh. No small task, considering the character's aforementioned history.

[ by Mark Allen ]
Rambles: 9 November 2002

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