Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb

details
Title: Superman for All Seasons
Stand-Alone: Yes
Writer(s): Jeph Loeb
Illustrator(s): Tim Sale & Bjarne Hansen
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 31st 2018 (originally published on December 8th 2001)
Pages: 224
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction
ISBN13: 9781401281090
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

thoughts

If there’s one superhero that everyone and their mother knows about, it’s Superman. From his hair curl to his red trunks, this icon has established himself as the prime example for all things heroic. Throughout the years, countless writers and illustrators have tackled his lore and expanded his impact on a scale as little as Kansas to as big as the multiverse. While his earlier stories focused on his exploits within the frontiers of Metropolis, his backstory grew in every horizon and explored the dark corners of Krypton to the point of introducing countless alien creatures to the mix. Nonetheless, underneath the red cape and heroism lies Clark Kent. Even as an alien, he has shown us the very purity of humanity that no man was ever able to grasp. But Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman is what truly justifies the reasons why this being was gifted by fate the greatest powers ever, and the biggest heart in the universe.

Superman for All Seasons is a four-part story conceived right around the time Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale embraced great success with Batman: The Long Halloween. Instead of following the holidays, this story focuses on our four favourite seasons, starting with Spring and ending with Winter. With a different key character narrating each season, the story explores Clark Kent’s coming-to-age. While focusing on his struggle and exploits that lead him to go beyond his parent’s farm and into the big city, the story also focuses on Clark Kent coming to terms with his powers. In a nearly-perfect retelling of Superman’s early life, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale delivers one of the most intimate story of a character that holds a burden far too huge for anyone to carry around.

supermanforallseasons_quote1

It’s easy to think that Superman is a hero with no flaws and who has it easy with the powers he possesses. Being able to bend metal with his bare hands and to run faster than a speeding bullet sure does give us plenty of ideas on how to make the most of our lives. In fact, plenty of people would surely want to do things that will solely benefit themselves alone, but Clark Kent is a man who sees in his powers an opportunity to serve a greater good. In his realization, he however crumbles under the weight of such a duty and finds himself feeling alone in the world. His journey will however bring him to understand things that will lift the veil of sorrow that hinders his own happiness. What Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale accomplish is a truly stunning tale that comprises a very powerful, mythical and majestic tone that only this dynamic duo of a creative team could have ever achieved.

The artwork is also incredible, although it will take a couple of pages before adjusting to it, and believe me when I say the adjustment will be quick, smooth and unconditional. I personally had a hard time accepting Superman’s bulkier and bubblier design, with a very minimal and small facial design, but as he grows in the story, his character becomes much more fabled and conveys his grandeur with ease and grace. The watercolour is also exquisite and stunning thanks to colourist Bjarne Hansen. The two-page panels are always impossible to resist and portrays Superman in such an epic scope that you just have to take a couple of seconds to admire his splendor.

What Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale accomplish is truly admirable and easily falls into the domain of classics. To take Superman and give life to the hero through his secret identity, Clark Kent, could never have been done better than in Superman for All Seasons. The softness of the artwork, with the brilliant analogies between Clark Kent’s life in the cornfields and his struggles with his powers and the pressures of modern society, this story simply transcends the very comic book medium and illustrates hope and virtue through love and understanding.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

lashaansignature

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27 comments

  • I like this duo, and Batman: The Long Halloween is easily one of the better Batman stories I’ve read. The art is indeed quite unique, bulky and intentionally spacious, bereft of many details we got used to especially in our more smooth and sleek times, but seamlessly conveys Loeb’s story, and that’s the most important thing :). Anyway, it looks pretty good. It may even happen to be the comic book to convince me to Superman! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I might also go for it, it’s been ages since I’ve read a Superman comic, and now I have two or three tomes in my TBR… I like the art here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a wonderful self-contained story that features a bunch of characters within Superman’s lore too. It’s definitely a great place to start when it comes to Superman. Hopefully you’ll find it as great as I did. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale sure have accomplished so many great things over the years. Batman: The Long Halloween was indeed one of my favourites too. The crime-noir style was unique and so well down. You should totally check this out then. There’s plenty to appreciate in what they’ve accomplished for the Big Blue Scout. 😀 Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I have to be honest about the fact that I have never really been a huge Superman fan…but…this does look very cool. The artwork that is shown here in your post looks incredible, and I also quite like the premise. While I am probably not in a real rush to read this one, I might check it out at some point to continue my quest in learning more about the DC universe. Great post as always! 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have crossed paths with A LOT of folks who have said the same about Superman (not being a fan). He has indeed been mediatized a lot and sometimes makes it hard to understand why he’s so special when there are other heroes with way cooler powers and what not. But there’s definitely a story to this hero and it’s by taking the time to find out why that you really understand his greatness. It’s a nice place to start just to understand why Superman/Clark Kent is so fascinating! Thanks for reading as always, Michel. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve always avoided this book just because of the artwork. Writers names don’t mean enough to me to draw me in, so it has to be the art that hooks me into a story and much like you, I find that style unappealing. I suspect I would soon move past it just like you did, as I’m a pretty big Supes fan (just to be clear, I have Superman socks, boxers, pants, shirts and hat, so I’m covered 😉 ).

    Some of the issues is that it is really getting harder and harder for me to read the small stuff in comics. Either the text or the small details, I struggle to see them clearly and while I don’t really admit it, even to myself, I KNOW that is affecting my overall enjoyment. Sometimes being a diabetic stinks :-/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah I totally understand. I’m very open-minded with art styles since after a couple of pages or chapters, I start to see how the art works with the story and then slowly give much less importance to my subjective thoughts about the art in order to appreciate the story as a whole (dialogue + art + everything else).

      Oh man, there are some stories where the dialogue is almost impossible to read (Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, for example). It’s definitely an unfortunate situation you’re in and I am sort of saddened that it has to come down to that. Have you ever tried digital comics? Through Comixology, for example? Cheaper, more accessible and maybe better for the eyes for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, that is one of the reasons I use a kindle so much. Love being able to increase the font on the books 🙂

        Unfortunately, the business model that comics are being based on just doesn’t work for me anymore. I just finished Path of Doom and it wasn’t a complete story line. I knew that going in thanks to Bookwraiths, but still, it came as a bit of a shocker. I’m just used to a whole storyline in one graphic novel instead of a whole season of various comics being the whole storyline.
        Comics have just changed quicker than I can accomodate them now…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, yes. Canon series are like that. I don’t think any of the main on-going series are self-contained stories per trade paperback. You’d have to look into graphic novel stories that are usually outside the canon stories in order to find those “complete story lines”. Or… wait for them expensive omnibuses. 😀 😀 Yep, the life of a comic book reader is not an easy one, and a pretty expensive one nowadays.

          Liked by 1 person

  • Is that the same Jeph Loeb who works on all the Marvel shows?

    I think this sounds like such an interesting read. When it comes to super heroes, I’ve always been much more invested in character development than their actual abilities. Even when they bash you over the head with it like in S2 of Luke Cage with the whole “deal with your anger” thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, same guy. Also the one behind Smallville and Lost, if you ever watched those. 😀

      Hahahaha yep, when they can nail the character development within the story, it’s definitely a big win for the reader. It’s much more easier to spot the developement in self-contained stories (graphic novels) than in series though. But it’s definitely something I like to see in all my stories. As for Luke Cage… Gosh, you couldn’t have said it better hahahah That season sure got super cringey far too many times!

      Liked by 1 person

  • This is such a great review! I love this line you wrote: “Even as an alien, he has shown us the very purity of humanity that no man was ever able to grasp.” It’s honestly so true, and I love how his character is just an all-powerful being (my girlfriend likes to say he’s Godlike), but chooses to help instead of control because that’s just so humane and the right thing to do. This is automatically added to my list of comics to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awn, thank you so, so much! I truly appreciate it! That point is really well developed and explored in this particular story too. Of all things he could do with the powers he has, he decides to think of others over himself. I definitely recommend checking this out and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! 😀

      Like

  • Excellent analysis my friend! I read this sometime ago (before I started my blog five years ago, I think) and it’s a gem – the particular style of Tim Sale’s art does take that minute or two to grab you but when married with a story like this it feels like the right fit for a standalone release.

    Some people are quick to label Superman as ‘boring’ or ‘unrelatable’ and it’s stories like this that provide a strong counter argument. Have you read ‘Hulk: Grey’ at all? That’s also by Loeb and Sale and well worth checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris! I’m glad to finally have found the time to read this gem. After all, The Long Halloween was such a classic, I’m a bit surprised I took this long before checking out more of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s work. And yep. That artwork doesn’t instantly draw you in, but once you see Clark develop as a character and change over time, you seek how well the art works. I particularly loved how a particular scene kept on repeating itself through each season (Clark in bed). It’s quite powerful, the loneliness and all that it conveyed.

      Exactly! I feel like some people just claim Superman is overrated because of how much spotlight he gets all the time, but I for one will always say that there’s a reason why he’s so popular, and it’s not just because he can fly and he has super-strength.

      I haven’t read Hulk: Grey, but it’s definitely on my list of stories to check out at some point. The only Hulk story I got (and haven’t read too) is World War Hulk. 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  • Funny how you mentioned the artwork because that was exactly my first reaction when I saw Superman’s face. It looked a bit too cartoonish so I can see how reading the story would not make one feel that it is the same as watching a movie that is not an animation. However, I do still like Superman and his history. I will admit — more so than Batman. Sorry . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blasphemous! 😡🤣😡🤣 I’ve never heard someone say such a thing! No way, uh uh. I will forever deny such statement coming from you!

      On a serious note, that artwork is definitely not easy to adjust to. It’s a very bulky yet innocent look we have for Clark, but by the end of the story, you’ll find yourself appreciating the style and how it conveys the message.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Love this! Loeb is one of those writers who really gets to the heart of Superman, its not all punchy punchy, you actually get to see the soul of this great character!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely!!! These are the kinds of stories that give Superman a reason to be one of the greatest superhero to have ever been created. There’s more to him that the stereotypical descriptions he’s often given.

      Thanks for stopping by! 😀 I appreciate that!

      Liked by 1 person

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