As many readers may have noticed, I’ve been revisiting DC Comics of 2006. An era of reinvention and upheaval, this was the time for many characters who had become stale and predictable into fresh new heroes that readers would actually be interested in reading about. Combining the writing talents of Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns to revitalize Superman was a master stroke. The first Superman comic I ever noticed to be hailed by Pitchfork media, this was a great experiment to bring in a new audience that thought itself too hip for comics, let alone a character as corny as Superman.
Building on the events of Infinite Crisis, Superman is powerless at the beginning of this story. Simply Clark Kent, he develops himself into a hard-nosed reporter fearlessly hounding Intergang and Lex Luthor alike but with his wits rather than his fists. The first half of this story sees Clark beaten by Luthor’s thugs in an alley and nearly killed by Intergang as he attempts to uncover their newest plot against the city of Metropolis. Once a bumbling oaf incapable of meeting a deadline never mind writing a killer news piece (when is the last time anyone even remembers Clark writing anything!?), he is transformed by his de-powering and seems content to stay human. His wife Lois Lane is torn about what to do, but patiently stands by her man throughout his journey, something that Superman’s compatriots in the super hero world are less able to do. From bombarding his body with solar energy to even trying to pawn off a Green Lantern ring, the super hero community will not let him go, but nothing doing. Clark just wants to be Clark.
While this may sound boring, it’s refreshing to see the series take a breather and re-establish the world of Metropolis and its supporting cast. The story actually becomes less interesting when Superman puts the costume back on, but the fantastic art by Pete Woods makes it dynamic enough to keep you reading. There is also a refreshing step back into the realm of the Superman legacy as the story closes with a brief battle against a mad scientist commanding a gigantic man-made Kryptonite virus. This step backward into a simpler feel is very misleading given that in the intervening years since this story, Superman comics have if anything darkened in tone.
A lost gem in the annals of Superman comics, I strongly recommend Up, Up and Away (especially if you have never been interested in Superman at all).