Superman: Kryptonite by Darwyn Cooke

details
Title: Superman: Kryptonite.
Writer(s): Darwyn Cooke.
Illustrator(s): Tim Sale.
Colourist(s): Dave Stewart.
Letterer(s): Richard Starkings.
Publisher
:
 DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: January 8th 2019 (first published December 5th 2007).
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401275259.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

As complicated as it is to create stand-alone stories in a comic book industry where everything is retconned, there are stories that successfully manage to bring in a significant tale that ultimately ends up being immortally relevant for a character’s lore. Superman’s stories have always been one of the most difficult ones for writers and artists to innovate with as the direction they could take are innumerable and limited at the same time. With a character of such importance and status, there is a fine line to travel on where originality clashes with pertinence. Lucky for us, a number of talented individuals will always push things forward with the proper initiative and ideas to give us memorable and iconic moments in a hero’s journey through life. This is where legendary, award-winning creator Darwyn Cooke and the equally legendary and acclaimed artist Tim Sale join forces to deliver a wonderful tale that introduces Superman to his greatest weakness for the first time in his superhero adventures: kryptonite.

What is Superman: Kryptonite about? Collecting issues #1-5 of Superman Confidential and issue #11, the story follows a young Clark Kent in his early days as the Man of Steel when he juggles both of his professions only to quickly realize that even Superman has vulnerabilities. Drawing upon the foundation set by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale in Superman for All Seasons, this story continues to explore Clark Kent’s identity and struggles on Earth by giving fans an inside look at a hero struck by the dreaded feeling of fear that he has never known before. On one hand, Louis Lane investigates the mysterious figure Anthony Gallo by utilizing all the necessary strategies to get inside information on his suspicious activities, while on the other hand, Clark Kent finds himself pulled towards his undying desire to help the world while putting his own life second. In this story arc, Superman discovers far more about himself than he ever thought he would in his life on Earth.

Untitled

What happens when you grow up acknowledging that you’re invulnerable and indestructible, only to suddenly discover one day that you can be harmed? Learning about the subtle sensations that encapsulate both fear and pain is a process explored throughout life from birth. To be struck by a wave of these emotions without knowing how to put it all in words is undoubtedly one of the scariest thought ever and it is one that Superman himself discovers when he is forced to bail on an intimate arrangement with his one true love in order to save a whole island from a roaring volcano. This brings him to not only realize the struggles of juggling two identities (one as Clark Kent and his journalism, the other as Superman and his superheroism) but also to realize that he is just as liable as any other human being. His quest for self-discovery is further explored when the first traces of kryptonite is introduced into the story and brings Clark Kent to introspect on his identity, his strengths but especially his weaknesses. The ultimate lessons he learns from all this is what makes this story so engrossing, regardless of a couple plot holes towards the end.

The artwork is reminiscent of Tim Sale’s previous work, especially in Batman: The Long Halloween, and is not a style that will please everyone unanimously but remains strangely captivating and appropriate. Several panels convey the stronger emotions, such a fear, anger, and pain, with a lot of intensity, especially when it regards Clark Kent/Superman. Some character designs are bit rougher around the edges, but the overall structure promotes a fluent read that quickly draws the readers attention to key elements to focus the story-telling on the dialogues and events. In fact, a lot of panels contain so much subliminal information that a general feeling of exhaustiveness is felt throughout the story arc. In fact, the dual-perception between Clark Kent and Louis Lane was clever and brilliantly conveyed. The creative team that worked on this project is without a doubt an astonishing combo that offers fans the chance to see what happens when great talent get together.

Superman: Kryptonite is a tale of self-discovery that introduces the Man of Steel to his unbeknown psychological and physical vulnerabilities.


EXHIBITA

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

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25 comments

    • Doh, hit enter too soon. Anyway.

      I think the idea of Superman suddenly realizing he isn’t invulnerable must be gut wrenching. Even human babies learn about pain REALLY QUICK! and they learn. Supes, he never had the experience. I wonder if it is analogous to us humans facing death. We hear about it, see it, but never experience it, except that one time. If so, Supes must consider kryptonite like dying again and again and again. Ugh. I think that would drive me mad.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Tell me about it. Couldn’t have said it better myself. This story really explores Supes encounter with the one thing that could kill him and how he emotionally deals with it. I love that such a story was actually done since it really packs a punch when you think about the one person who seems invulnerable to everything finally encounter something this killer.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I totally understand your feelings for it. At first it’s definitely not the most appealing style you could check out nowadays, but once you check out more of his work, you start to understand the style. Then again, art is always subjective hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • Well I have to say that I am feeling all nostalgic here! When I was young and had sleepover at my grandma I stumbled upon comics with superheroes but dating way back. Probably around the 50ies 70ies? And their drawings were so similar to this one that’s uncanny! These comics didn’t have a hardcover at that time and the paper was not as white as now!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have comic issues like those with the more newspaper’y feel and the yellow’ish taint to them! They convey such a peculiar vibe when flipping through them hahaha I’m glad to hear how this made you so nostalgic! You need to revisit comics/graphic novels now! 😀 Not necessarily superhero stuff though. 😉

      Like

  • What can I say? I grew to appreciate Sale’s artwork, but it took me a moment to get immersed in his style of drawing – however, once I did that, I realized how much he can convey in his minimalist style and the the use of hues and shadows. From Spiderman: Blue and Daredevil: Yellow, Superman For All Seasons to Batman: Long Halloween, which is my favorite of his to date. I’d definitely like to take a look at that Superman!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m totally with you. I adored it in Batman: Long Halloween in particular. A brilliant noir classic, right there! In Long Halloween it was particularly heavier on negative space/shadows and conveyed the perfect atmosphere for Harvey Dent’s origin story. It’s a style that people will have to get used to by seeing it more often, if you ask me. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I am so going to read it 🙂 After All Seasons, I’m in a mood for more. But it will have to wait for my next Amazon order, I need to have it printed on paper.
    Both these volumes seem to me to be essential Superman stories, and I really don’t need much more. Imagine a terrible reality where Disney bought Tolkien Estate and they publish an official Middle Earth short story each week… don’t we have too much superhero comics? I love the genre, but not how it works as a business.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had a feeling you’d want to check this out. 😛 And I totally relate with the need for a paper edition. Anything Batman/Superman-related will always be in their tangible editions for me. 😀

      Ahhh, I understand that point of view. Some stories are iconic and quintessential to each hero no matter what year we live in. There will indeed always be new stories, new artists, new styles and only time will tell if any of the newer stuff will end up being spoken of on the same level as what we consider classics. I doubt I’ll get tired of the newer stuff, even if it means dipping my toe in lower-quality material. At least there will always be GREAT stories to check out or revisit. 😀 With All Seasons and Kryptonite, you’ll have indeed covered some very important elements part of Superman, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of his villains or important moments in his life (i.e. Death of Superman, Brainiac, etc,)! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Yet another fantastic review my friend, your energy in keeping these coming is boundless! I read Kryptonite when it first released as single issues (think it was 2006/7?) and found it surprisingly enjoyable. It’s a good standalone story and Tim Sale’s style is a good fit, it’s a look that would generally be a turn off for me yet anything Sale has worked on I’ve liked – he just seems to end up working on the “right” projects, Like “Long Halloween” (I’m a bit concerned at how the animated film may look though, adapting Sale’s style to that could make or break it).

    I hadn’t though about the sort of spiritual connection to Superman for All Seasons strangely, but I don’t think I’d read that at the time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ohhh, pretty cool that you got to live this classic in it’s comic book issues form. I totally agree with your feelings about Tim Sale’s artwork style. I don’t know how he does it, but there’s something about it that works more often than not. I too wonder if they’ll keep the style for Long Halloween… Something tells me they won’t however. All of their animated movies, except Batman: Ninja (by the way, did you see that one? hahah), tend to have a similar style.

      It has a lot of similarities in the character’s design, especially Superman. I think it was intentional, but at least no one officialized the fact that it might be its spiritual sequel. He hasn’t worked on too many projects after all. 😮

      Like

      • I think the fact that the stories he works on take place outside of regular continuity and have that more ‘otherworldly’ feel to them.

        I actually have Batman Ninja on my Netflix watchlist but hesitant given some of the reviews of seen, would you say it’s worth a go (your opinion carries much greater favour with me)?

        Liked by 1 person

        • You will have to lower your expectations significantly for it hahah It’s completely insane and a mash-up of so many iconic things (like Power Rangers) with a risky art style, but it knows that it’s insane. It was fun in the end, but very, very flawed 😂

          Liked by 1 person

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