Superman: Birthright #9 Review

Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Krypton Lives

Superman created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

Written by: Mark Waid
Penciled by: Leinil Francis Yu
Inked by: Gerry Alanguilan
Lettered by: Comic Craft
Colored by: Dave McCaig
Editors: Tom Palmer Jr. & Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

The re-birthwrite of Superman continues with Superman: Birthright #9. Mark Waid advances the plot quite a bit with the much anticipated first meaty confrontation between Superman and Lex Luthor. It is West Wing style witty and poignant dialogue between the two. Waid did a great job on this issue’s script.

As readers know, LL has been waging a campaign to discredit Superman and mark him as a harbinger of an alien invasion. Public support is turning to scepticism. Superman is fed up and goes after LL.

The “filler” part of the issue, which the book opens with, revolves around your usual non-powered human thug putting Lois Lane in danger and Superman coming to the rescue. Nothing really new here, but it does begin the build up to main LL and Superman confrontation.

In addition, there are a few new “interesting” twists in this issue, particularly how Superman learns of Krypton and its fate. That particular matter was handled superbly by Waid and drawn beautifully by Leinil Yu. The expressive emotional reaction by Superman is moving. I don’t want to spoil the “how” for you. The issue is worth it for this scene alone.

The characterization, from writer and artist, are strong in this issue. However, as has been the case with a handful of books edited by Eddie Berganza, there are some niggly little avoidable mistakes in the issue. All these mistakes, if gleaned, lead readers to believe that Birthright happened after 2002, yet the recent issues of the Superman franchise (the Majestic issue and even in Godfall) reinforce that many of the key elements of Superman’s lore (Doomsday, LL becoming President, etc.) happened – there is no way all that happened in 2 years.

The editorial miscues revolve around 1) a reference that the U.S.’s Department Homeland Security is looking for Superman due to LL’s allegations (that government branch wasn’t set-up until after 9-11), 2) if that is the case, Lex Luthor should be President in Birthright, but he’s just a genius businessman, and 3) LL uses a cell phone with a camera feature (that’s a recent invention – used widely years after 9-11). These “timing” issues, while distracting, do not wholly take away from many of the powerful character confrontations in Birthright #9. They are annoying though (sorry, I guess I already said that).

Luckily, as has been the case from issue one, the art on this book is extremely solid. Leinil Yu does some amazing pencils. The facial expressions of his characters are expressive and Superman hasn’t looked this heroic or iconic in years. Not only can he draw characters, his machinery is extremely detailed. This issue’s military scenes demonstrate that.

I also got a good laugh when I looked at the cover credit. It refers to the penciller as Leinil F Yu. I hadn’t noticed that before. Not sure if that was deliberate, his middle name is Francis afterall, but it serves a nice message to me (as an outspoken critic of the series at times) and perhaps other critics. F-Yu, indeed.

The book is brilliantly colored as well. The visuals are just solid in issue #9.

Overall, Birthright #9 is an entertaining funnybook yarn.