Almost 80 years ago, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster revealed Superman’s origins to the world. In its structure, it is both simple and multi-layered. Every generation DC has revisited it to tell a new version of the origin that reflects the storytelling methods of that time and reflect the expectations of readers of the time. As a testament to how timeless it is, the broad strokes of the origin have remained untouched throughout the years.
It all starts on the planet Krypton, a planet with an advanced culture but is also doomed to be imminently destroyed. Before it can be destroyed scientist Jor-El and his wife Kara are able to send their son off into a rocket to escape the destruction. The rocket eventually makes its way to Earth where it crashes down in Kansas where it’s found by The Kents.
The Kents decide to keep the baby and raise it as their own. As the child, which they named Clark, grows up they notice that he exhibits some extraordinary gifts and realise that the child is something special. With their love and guidance, the Kents shape Clark’s moral code and teach him that he is to use his gifts to help humanity.
Once Clark reaches his adult years he moves to Metropolis where he lives a double life. In one life he’s the mild-mannered Clark Kent, who works as a reporter at the Daily Planet. In the other, he’s Superman, who uses his immense abilities to do good in the world.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
Bryne’s interpretation of the origin remained gospel for many years until DC decided that the origin need a 21st-century touch in 2003. Thus the twelve-part maxiseries called Superman: Birthright was born. Written by Mark Waid and art by up-and-comer Lenil Francis Yu, the comic took what Bryne had established and expanded on it. It didn’t retread on what Bryne had done before, but fill in gaps and treated Bryne’s interpretation as events that happened off the page as a way to not negate them.
The most notable of these were the years in which Clark travels the world being a journalist, while at the same time trying to find his place in the world. In his travels, Clark finds purpose and inspires him to become the hero we know and love.
It’s this strong foundation that Superman’s origin has not only last as long as it has, but it’s one that has become malleable with the ages. It truly is a testament to the imagination of Superman’s creators Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster who were able to get most of it right the very first time. As a result, Superman’s origin is one of the best origins in the DC Universe – perhaps even the best in comics.
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