I love comic books. Most people who know me know that I can go on and on about characters and their stories. So you should put a lot of weight in to what I am about to say.
Hands down, this is my favorite DC comic ever.
You don’t need to know anything about Superman or any other DC comic to understand what’s going on in Secret Identity. The four-issue miniseries (which you can pick up as a trade paperback compilation next month) is not about the Clark Kent most of us are familiar with. It’s about another Clark Kent. A “real” Clark Kent. This Clark Kent lives in a world much like ours. A world devoid of superheroes. A world were Superman, Batman, and all the other comic book characters are just that – comic book characters. They aren’t real. No one has special powers.
This Clark Kent resents his name and his namesake. He hides all the joke Superman presents he gets for his birthdays at the bottom of his closet and tries his best to avoid the guys at school who tease and harass him. Clark takes refuge in the fields around his family’s home where he hides away with a typewriter and dreams of someday becoming a writer. But he discovers one night that he has suddenly and inexplicably gained the sort of super powers that previously only existed in comic books. He becomes the real Superman – but he does so in a world that is not as ready to accept superheroes as the ones shown in comic books. As he begins to discover his powers and use them to help people, any number of individuals come along who want to manipulate him. Journalists and government agents make his life difficult and he struggles to keep his real life secret while they all try and get what they want from him.
All Clark wants to do is help people and try to lead a normal life. He’s just trying to build his career, find the right girl, and ultimately provide for a family.
That’s what I love about this comic and this Superman.
This Clark Kent is a normal person. It’s a very realistic, likeable portrayal of a character that many people have grown weary with over the years. This Clark Kent is something special in a world where no one is special. And though he really holds to a lot of the same principles that the more well known Superman does, he’s different. He’s like us. There are very few people like him in the world and many of those who are out there are being manipulated by their governments, experimented on, etc. It’s not an easy life. And that’s exactly what this comic is about. Life. It’s not about superheroes or superpowers. It’s about a boy growing into a man and the sort of extraordinary and painfully ordinary situations that come with it.
I also enjoy the way they sort of make fun of the original Superman. Clark Kent hates Superman but adopts a Superman personae to hide his real identity. He hates Superman but marries a woman named Lois. He refuses to name his children anything even remotely related to the series but that doesn’t mean that they keep to that. It’s all very cute and simple.
And the characters are great. You root for Clark from day one. He’s just an awkward, small-town boy trying to figure out what his place is in the world. You can relate with him. But I even started to feel for the secondary characters – including his government handler who grows on you and becomes more than just a shadowy, manipulative figure. Everyone in the series will remind you of someone you know or maybe even yourself. And you’ll probably think that a lot of it is a lot like what would happen to you in this day and age if you were to just some day wake up with super powers. (Providing you have the moral fiber not to go crazy and become a maniacal dictator, of course.)
This is a great comic book for comic fans and newcomers alike. I definitely recommend it to everyone but I recommend it in particular to people who aren’t really fans of the bigger comic universes. It’s okay to like comic books in small doses and not want to get dragged into something massive and complicated. In four issues you get a fantastic story and it’s one that you can enjoy and walk away from feeling content and fulfilled. It ends on an up note and you don’t have to worry about what comes next. Because you know it’s all worked out for the best.
You can read this miniseries for yourself on April 9th. The pre-order price on Amazon is pretty sweet so if you want to get it that’s your best bet. Everywhere else has it for the regular price. $12 for this is a freakin’ steal.