Superman: Birthright

Date: 2005 (collection), 2003-4 (original material)
Writer(s): Mark Waid
Artists(s): Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan
Collects: Superman: Birthright 1-12
Storyline: Jor-el and his wife, Lara prepared a space-going vessel for their infant child. Their utopian world of Krypton was destroying itself. Getting baby Kal-el to another planet would be his only chance of survival. Jor-el found a suitable planet, programmed it in, and the tiny ship blasted off. He was unsure the rocket would make it there, but he was positive Krypton would soon be destroyed. Twenty-five years later, American journalist Clark Kent was working on a story in Africa about a tribal leader. Kent saved the man from two assassination attempts within an hour.
Clark finally was able to activate the tablet that was in his rocket. Though he could not read the text, he could tell by the visuals that it was a history of his people. Clark was placed in the middle of a civil war and he was forced to show off his special powers in front of some people. After the war was over, he returned home. Inside the rocket in which he arrived on earth was a blue banner with a stylized red and yellow "S." From the videos, he realized the symbol meant something to his people and he decided it should mean something to him.
He showed his mother some drawings he'd done and they worked on a costume. He wanted to help people, but didn't want "Clark Kent" to get in the way. It seemed people became afraid of him after they witnessed his powers. A schism began to develop between Clark and Jonathan, but they talked through it. Martha decided they should work on the Clark Kent half of him as a disguise as much as the new costume. He got glasses, baggy clothes, and a slouch. With Lex Luthor taking up business in Metropolis, Clark decided that would be his new home.
Clark had a job interview with Perry White at the Daily Planet. On his way in, he saw reporter Lois Lane stand up for intern Jimmy Olsen to the publisher. He introduced himself and she'd read some of his stuff. While being interviewed, helicopters attacked. Kent got Mr. White to safety and changed into his new outfit. Lane and Olsen jumped in a helicopter and went after the story. The caped man saved it from a crash and went after the others. While chasing them, he saw Lex Luthor. After destroying the hijacked helicopters, he confronted Luthor. Luthor denied any involvement with the situation, though the man could "see" the transmissions leading it back to him. Lane and Olsen arrived and attempted to get a story. They were thrown out.
Lois Lane was introduced to her new partner, Clark Kent. She was assigned to show him the ropes after he wowed Perry White with an article about the attacking helicopters. He was able to tie them back to LexCorp. Luthor, after seeing the S on "Superman's" chest, was reminded of something and visited a division of his company which looked for extraterrestrial life. Inside, he found what he was looking for: a sliver of a green element with the same S. He called his secretary to set up a meeting with his old friend, Clark Kent.
Lane and Kent met with Luthor, who denied knowing Kent or Smallville. He showed the two reporters some of the patents he was working on - items that had been developed from exploration of other planets. Luthor claimed to have proof that Superman was an alien. White told Kent to write the story. After it was published, everyone began giving him the cold shoulder. Luthor later sabotaged a bridge so he could catch Superman in action. He used an emission device and was able to make Superman falter. Clark visited his parents and discussed when he knew Luthor ten years previous. Lex was shunned by the townspeople and his schoolmates due to his genius. Everyone feared him but Clark, who tried to befriend him. Lex showed him part of a meteorite he'd found in Smallville, and for the first time, Clark felt ill. Lex threw him out in anger. His experiment to open a wormhole to another dimension went wrong. An explosion killed his father and burned their home. Smallville never saw or heard from Lex Luthor again.
Luthor published pictures he'd gotten with his telescopes - space vessels with the same S Superman wore. He claimed Superman was an advanced scout from a race of extraterrestrial conquerors. Superman, though not fully trusted, continued to help the city as much as he could. He attacked Luthor who told him about "Krypton" - his planet of origin. All the people of the world were killed but him. Lex had been decoding transmissions and had gathered tons of information on the planet and its technologies. Luthor had sold his lab to the government, so Superman was now wanted. Giant alien ants attacked Earth. Kryptonians emerged from them. Superman tried to help, but Luthor was broadcasting his "kryptonite" radiation across the city. Clark went back to the office and resigned. Superman caught up with her - she still trusted him. He told her the lowdown and she went off to find the Kryptonite in Luthor's tower. When she arrived, she found Luthor preparing to send his troops in against the Kryptonians. She removed the Kryptonite and Superman began to heal. Luthor told her everything before dropping her out of his window.
Superman saved her and went for Luthor. He'd opened a wormhole to Krypton shortly before it was destroyed. Superman saw his parents putting him in the rocket. They saw him telling them he made it before their world ended. Luthor was indicted on several counts; Lane and Kent broke the story.


notes

  • Clark Kent graduated highschool at 18. He studied abroad and finished college over the next seven years. He and his mother began working on the costume on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his rocket crashing.
  • Cellphones, camera phones, internet, and email are very present in this story.
  • Return to continuity section 1.