Title: Superman for All Seasons
Writer(s): Jeph Loeb
Illustrator(s): Tim Sale & Bjarne Hansen
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 31st 2018 (originally published on December 8th 2001)
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!