Superman for All Seasons (1998) #1

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The incredible thing about Superman For All Seasons is it never feels too precious. It ought to feel too precious as gentle, reserved giant Clark Kent ambles through his last spring in Smallville. Pa Kent narrates All Seasons, but Clark’s the protagonist. There’s a scene for Ma and Pa to talk about how Clark’s just getting so strong they don’t know what to do, but he can hear them, so it’s still his scene.

The issue tracks Clark through his final significant changes—flying and invulnerability. The flying gets a big scene—Clark versus tornado—but the invulnerability starts with a haircut. The comic’s got a relaxed pace, with a two-page spread sometimes establishing a familiar scene or location. Downtown Smallville, as it were, or a Metropolis establishing shot. Tim Sale’s art often implores consideration, with Jeph Loeb pacing the writing to match.

Pa Kent’s narration becomes a control of sorts.

The issue ends with Clark in Metropolis, already established. The issue’s supposed to be “Spring,” which apparently means it starts in one spring and ends in another, years later. They skip over the college years if there are any; there’s discussion about Clark’s plans after high school, but once he’s able to fight tornados, the comic doesn’t include them anymore.

The vast majority of the comic is solid, with the weakest scene probably being Clark trying to talk to the Smallville pastor about things. The pastor’s non-answer gets interrupted. Clark’s farewell flight with Lana Lang doesn’t have much in the way of story content, but Sale’s art is so good it doesn’t matter. Glorious night flight beats out intentionally indeterminate talking heads every time.

Superman’s only big action sequence is a violence-free save; Metropolis is an impossible safety hazard, so he’s presumably always busy. Loeb and Sale know how to deliver their moments, but they’ve been saving up for that one. It’s magnificent.

The “cliffhanger” introduces Lex Luthor—sporting his eighties Man of Steel red locks—but otherwise, the issue doesn’t do anything to forecast what’s coming next. Presumably, it’ll be well-paced and often lovely.

All Seasons is off to an exceptional start.

Oh, also—Bjarne Hansen’s colors. They’re enchanting. Again, kind of the point, but it’s also accomplishing its not inconsiderable ambitions.

I mean, one issue in, anyway.

2 Comments

  1. Vernon W

    One of the more successful stories the two put out. While I’m not a Loeb/Sale guy, they work together here in tandem to produce one of the few standalone Superman stories that’s worth other media interpretation. Hanson’s colors definitely lift their share of the visual weight.

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