A wonderful, and uplifting tale, with a unique and imaginative look at the reality of superhero sized secrets.
Written by Kurt Busiek with art by Stuart Immonen, Superman: Secret Identity is set in the real world, an Elseworld story in all but name. Dealing with four main stages of a character’s life. While this fact alone could suggest a book similar to Superman: For All Seasons, Secret Identity expands itself over a much larger period of time. Creating a more personal, and intimate story. The book largely deals with growing up, and feelings of isolation, and loneliness even in a crowd. Having secrets that feel too big to keep to yourself, but no way to find the answers you so desperately want, without considering going public. Through chapter two, it shifts to learning what to do with your life, now your out on your own, as well as finally letting someone in. Chapter three discussing responsibility and parenthood, and finally chapter four, morality.
So, why do we celebrate a book that seems to be nothing more than your standard morality tale, or slice of life work? Because of our lead. A young boy, born in real world Kansas, named Clark Kent.
Growing up, Clark has a particular hatred for Superman. Putting up with the constant jokes and teasing from classmates and neighbourhood kids. Clark comments about how he’s heard every joke a million times before.
“Still, it’s a lot fresher to them than to me.”
Complaining about his parents warped sense of humour with having named him this in the first place, and how, even if he did sometimes wish he had Superman’s powers, it’s his ability to just have a normal life as Clark Kent, that he envies the most. Unlike Superman, Clark can’t just put on a pair of glasses and change his posture to escape talk of Superman. In the real world, we know Clark Kent is Superman.
Clark goes out as often as he can, and just camps out under the stars. One night, during an anxiety dream, Clark wakes up suddenly flying. Convinced he’s dreaming, Clark experiments a little, before realising that he has all of Superman’s powers. Unable to figure out how, it adds a whole new level of complication to his life. When people start noticing the occasional presence of what looks like a flying boy around town, the jokes don’t let up.
Secret Identity takes nothing for granted when it comes to Superman’s abilities, and the effect it would have on a person’s life. How much it complicates his life, and adds an extra layer of confusion. The book follows Clark heavily through his life, meeting the woman he loves, trying to find answers for his powers, worries of the government and FBI, everything that could happen to his future children, let alone weather or not they will even be ok. His own mortality, and finally legacy. Small note, during his first date with Lois, his monologue describes all the things she likes, her hopes for the future, the way her nose wrinkles when she laughs, and her smile. The line that makes me smile every time is simple:
“If I sound smitten, don’t read too much into it – it’s because I am”.
Busiek’s dialogue leaps of the page with a mind of it’s own. Seeming at once very personal to the character, but highly relatable to the reader. This is highlighted beautifully by Immonen’s breathtaking, and unique art style throughout.
Superman: Secret Identity is just a wonderful out of tale, sure to leave a smile on your face. With Kurt Busiek releasing his latest stand-alone series, The Creature of the Night, basically his take on Superman: Secret Identity for Batman. It’s the perfect time to get around to this wonderful story.
The Deluxe edition is available here: Superman: Secret Identity – Deluxe Edition