When the new Superman movie Man of Steel comes out next June, an entirely new generation of fans will be getting to know DC’s Big Boy Scout. And while Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and David S. Goyer are more than capable of living up to the “man” part of “Superman” and “Man of Steel,” I think there’s room for comics to provide more to that story — the beginning.
The adventures of a young Superman before he reached Metropolis have been covered in the television series Smallville to an exorbitant degree, but that recently completed series is far from the minds of potential new readers growing up today. A few years back, current DC CCO Geoff Johns and his frequent partner-in-comics Gary Frank attempted to chart Clark’s younger years in Superman: Secret Origins but that, unfortunately, slipped through the cracks of hte popular comic book consciousness. On comic shelves, the young Superman is often confused with the current Superboy — similar look, similar logo — but they are far different heroes with far different origins. Although some might say there are enough Superman titles already coming out monthly, I’d argue there’s not nearly enough looking at the teenage years of Clark Kent.
Can’t call it “Superboy,” but how do you get across the adolescence of Superman in this title? By borrowing a title from Geoff Johns & Francis Manapul’s Adventure Comics run which also works as a play on the upcoming Man of Steel movie, dubbing this Superman: The Boy of Steel. In this story, we could show off Clark Kent’s adventure before he moved to Metropolis and before he took up the name Superman. Living with the Kents, traipsing around Smallville with Lana Lang, and running into the Legion of Super-Heroes. Unlike the restrictions the Smallville television series faced, this young Superman story could fully explore the outside DCU — from a field trip to Gotham City, a chance meeting with an underwater man while on a family trip to the coast, or perhaps his first timid steps outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
This wouldn’t be your stereotypical Young Adult read, but rather something more akin in tone to the aforementioned Adventure Comics Superboy story by Johns and Manapul, except focused on Clark. There’s real potential here to create something rewarding and enticing that could appeal to ardent comic store fans as well as the casual public, and rolling it out simultaneously to 2013′s Man of Steel movie could be just the thing. And for those saying this would be a retread of Superman: Earth One, I’d argue that slants to an older audience and skips over Clark’s Smallville years entirely.
Writer – Jane Espenson: This TV writing vet has a great resume (Buffy, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Once Upon A Time), and has already dipped her toe in comics writing several issues of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire series. She once compared Joss Whedon to Superman in terms of his creativity, and I’d like to see Espenson be able to dig in and draw out a gripping story of young Clark Kent.
Artist – Marcio Takara: I’ve been following Takara for years working on Boom!’s The Incredibles and Incorruptible, and his recent jump to DC’s Blue Beetle has given him the chance to show off his superhero style to a even bigger audience. Takara reminds me of a young Francis Manapul before he made that star turn in Adventure Comics after his run on Legion of Superheroes, and I think this material — young Clark Kent — would be just the think to dial into Takara’s inherent talent.