Superman: Secret Indentity
Reviewed: January 31, 2005
By: Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen
Publisher: DC Comics
192 pages, $30.95
In a world where Superman is just a comic book character, a Kansas boy named
Kent has parents with a quirky sense of humour. They name him Clark, and thereby
set him up for lifetime of teasing, closets full of Superman toys, and not
much use for the concept. So imagine his surprise when he suddenly develops
a full blown Man of Steel set of superpowers late in his high school years.
He keeps them hidden of course, not wanting to be seen as a freak, but after
a time he realizes that there is some good he can do in the world, as long
as he does it without getting caught. No public presence at all, though he
decides to use the costume so that anyone who does catch a glimpse of him will
be dismissed as a kook.
That's the idea behind this graphic novel in four chapters which takes us
through the life of an alternate world's Clark Kent, just a normal small town
human who has no idea why he can do these things.
Of course the government tries to track him down and contain him, even while
denying he exists, and he has to deal with that.
Of course, the jokes continue and his work buddies at the newspaper (not
the Daily Planet) set him up with someone named Lois (not Lane), and
things progress from love to marriage to children to middle age and a gradual
waning of abilities. But it's not a story about that other Clark Kent, and
this one's problems seem more down to earth.
Busiek does this sort of thing well. He applied the treatment he uses in
his own homage series Astro City to an established character and created
something very satisfying. The choice of Immonen, one of the more realistic
artists in the business, and one who has worked on the original character before,
was perfect for this type of story. The device of telling the whole thing in
Clark's own voice was also inspired.
Everyone gets full marks for this book, which is respectful to the mythos
of the original character, but treats him in a grown-up way.