Superman for All Seasons
|Superman for All Seasons|
Cover to Superman for All Seasons #1
Art by Tim Sale
|Publication date||September – December 1998|
|Number of issues||4|
Superman for All Seasons was a 4-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale, and was originally published by DC Comics in 1998. This was made hot off the heels from their previous success, Batman: The Long Halloween, and as that Batman story dealt with holidays as the theme, this story's theme dealt with seasons. The artwork contains many influences from that of Norman Rockwell. The story also parallels the events from Superman's then-origin story John Byrne's The Man of Steel, though it can be read on its own.
Superman For All Seasons was conceived, like all of the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale books from DC Comics and rival Marvel Comics, as a stand-alone, self-contained story that gave a sense of the character of Superman and his supporting cast. Not an origin, but picking up on who the character is and how he came to be.
As explained by Loeb, one of the things that he wanted to capture was the grandeur that is Superman, and that was to have double-page spreads with big sky shots. Sale and Bjarne Hansen were on the art and colors, and everyone was speechless once Loeb saw the pages, and when those same pages came in the DC office. One of the most powerful examples of this artistic choice is near the end of the first issue, featuring a double-page spread of Clark Kent and Pa Kent looking out at a radiant Kansas sunset from their farm as Clark prepares to leave home for Metropolis.
Perhaps the most important, and the key, to the series was the narration. Originally, Loeb never intended to have a narrator, but he did not want to do the story from Superman's point of view. As he explained; "I didn't feel comfortable being inside the head of an icon." So it was decided to allow other characters to narrate and give their individual points of view on Superman, with one narrator per volume. Pa Kent gives his life as a father to a super-powered son. While not knowing what lay ahead of Clark, has confidence that his son would be all right. This, in turn, came from Loeb himself as the father to his son, Sam Loeb. Narration by Lois Lane represents the impact of Superman's presence in Metropolis and comments on Superman as an idea. Lex Luthor explains how his rivalry with Superman is like a love story between him and Metropolis, and Lana Lang helps Clark reconcile his two identities as mild-mannered reporter and Superman.
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Narrated by Clark's father, Jonathan Kent, he makes a point that before he was "Superman" or "the Man of Steel", among others, Clark Kent was a farmer's son. After dinner, Lana Lang asks Clark what seems to be wrong, he replies it is nothing. Afterwards, the Kents discuss their son, with Pa Kent revealing he is afraid over what Clark could become because of his growing powers. They don't think Clark could hear them, but in his room, Clark hears every word. After school, Lana, Clark, and Pete Ross go to a store until Clark remembers his haircut appointment. When he is there, he realizes he can see through the wall, and his hair makes a barber's scissors break apart. A tornado strikes Smallville, and Clark helps out by saving a man before the gas station he is in explodes. Afterwards, Clark wonders if he could have done more. Talking to a pastor, the one question he asks him is if one man could do more. After graduation, Clark finally reveals to Lana that he can fly. In talking that he wants to help people with these powers, Lana tells him that he must leave Smallville, and then they kiss. Dressed up, Clark says goodbye to his parents before leaving to go to Metropolis. Getting a job with the Daily Planet, having a crush with reporter Lois Lane, and wearing the costume his mother made, Clark makes headlines as Superman. In his building, Lex Luthor knows it is going to be a "long, hot summer".
Narrated by Lois Lane, she makes a point that the rules that made her a newspaperwoman went out the window the day Superman appeared. Superman stops a nuclear missile from hitting the city, then single-handedly delivers the submarine which fired it to the armed forces. He threatened the man whose company manufactured the two: Lex Luthor. Then, Lois is threatened at gunpoint by one of the terrorists of the submarine. Superman quickly ends the situation, and takes Lois back to the Planet. In his apartment, Clark begins to feel lonely, so he goes back to Smallville to have dinner with his parents. Meeting with Pete again, and being congratulated by friends for becoming a reporter in Metropolis, he is disappointed that Lana had left some time before. He feels out of place, and sad that Smallville is different, but Ma Kent points out that it is all part of growing up. Back in Metropolis, a factory explodes and Luthor's "Guardians of the Sky" men in exosuits arrive to stop it. Superman arrives, and notices that the exosuits forgot about a woman trapped inside. He saves the woman and puts out the fire single-handedly. Later, Luthor meets the woman whom Superman saved, Miss Vaughn, who is obsessed with Superman, for his own plans.
Narrated by Lex Luthor, he considers his story to be a love story between a man and his city. His revenge starts after a night in jail. Miss Vaughn is part of his plan; drugging her so she can see nonstop images of Superman. Lois checks around Clark's desk and finds his notes with "L.L." on them. She wonders if they mean "Lois Lane", but Clark comes up behind her and reveals "Lana Lang". The Daily Planet is gassed, with Lois and many others experiencing rapid pulse and high fever. Changing into Superman, he finds a train about to have an accident and he stops it. Later he finds Prof. Crosby, a woman who was in an airtight suit when the gas was dispersed. After thinking about who could be behind it, the only person who could be behind it and/or help is Luthor. Confronting him, he asks Luthor for help. When he reveals his "hope" in the form of Toxin; Miss Vaughn. With no choice, he helps Toxin with the antidote by spreading it into the clouds so it can pass on through the rain; everyone is cured. But Toxin dies unexpectedly when they return to LexCorp. Through his words, Luthor makes Superman believe that he is not enough to save everyone and Clark returns to Smallville.
Narrated by Lana Lang, she reveals she wanted to marry the boy next door, and become Mrs. Lana Lang Kent. But it was when she found out what he could do, that it felt like her dreams crashed down. In Metropolis, Lex feels that Superman being gone is exactly "what it should be", while Lois starts to think of something that becomes dismissed because it is stupid: Clark IS Superman. Clark and Lana have a good time together and meeting back with Pete, who mentions to Clark and Lana how wrong it is that they are not moving on. The Kents and Lana have dinner when news comes in of a flood. When Lana mentions how they still have a man who can "change the course of mighty rivers", Ma and Pa Kent are shocked to learn that she "knows". Over a father-son talk, Clark mentions that he thought he could but that he can't do anything, but Pa Kent has him learn that he has limits and that he has to live with that. The next day, Pa and Clark Kent (wearing his Superman costume) go out to help the town against the flood. Before leaving, Lana makes it clear that even though her dreams were "yanked away", the boy she knew is still under Superman's costume. As townspeople watch, Superman saves the day for all places of Smallville such as fixing a damaged dam with just trees and boulders. Lana and the Kents get themselves into an accident, and almost drown, until Superman arrives. He goes out again to save his father, and once more to save their family dog. The night later, the words of Smallville's pastor, that the seasons may be grim but help us with the future, makes the townspeople happy, including Clark. Back in Metropolis with his article on the front page, Superman wants one of Luthor's exosuits to send Luthor a message: he's back. He saves a kid he had saved before, who introduces himself as Trevor, though people call him "Trev". Superman replies that "folks call me Superman".
The series has been collected into an individual volume:
- Superman for All Seasons (206 pages, hardcover, ISBN 1-56389-528-5, softcover, ISBN 1-56389-529-3)
Superman For All Seasons was highly praised by fans and critics. Readers found that it was the themes and messages from the writing and art that really hit home. Some examples include its use of metaphor to illustrate the coming-of-age, the end of childhood and the acceptance of your place in the world. It was voted the third best foreign comic book published in Japan in the Gaiman Award.
The Clark Kent/Superman from For All Seasons has reappeared three times since the series ended, all in other Loeb/Sale stories. First, in a short story from Superman/Batman: Secret Files & Origins 2003 (Nov. 2003) titled "When Clark Met Bruce", depicting the first meeting of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent as young boys in Smallville. Solo #1 (Dec. 2004) featured "Prom Night" which depicted Clark picking up Lana Lang as his prom date. Finally, a short story in Superman/Batman #26 (June 2006) titled "Sam's Story", Superman recounts his friend from high school who died of cancer when he was very young. The "Sam" character is based on Jeph Loeb's son, Sam, who died from the same illness.
In other media
Described as the catalyst by DC Comics; the mini-series was even used as the inspiration for the television series Smallville. Jeph Loeb even served as the writer and executive producer on the show.
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
This four-issue prestige-format series was a bright counterpoint to Loeb and Sale's noir Batman collaborations.
- Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 284: "Clark explored the picturesque Norman Rockwell setting of Smallville with his high school sweetheart Lana Lang."
- Loeb, Jeff. "About Superman for All Seasons". Superman Through the Ages!. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- Superman For All Seasons hardcover, DC Comics
- Superman For All Seasons softcover, DC Comics
- Superman For All Seasons Review, Line of Fire Reviews, Comics Bulletin
- "ANIME NEWS: 'Taste of Chlorine' voted No. 1 translated foreign comic in 2013". AJW. Asahi Shimbun. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "Jeph Loeb On "Sam'S Story"". Newsarama.