Loeb & Sale’s Superman For All Seasons Is Essential Reading

As one of the biggest icons in DC Comics and comic books in general, Superman is no stranger to big stories. One of his most overlooked, but easily one of his best, is Superman for all seasons (by Jeph Loeb and late Tim Sale). This Yellow Sun-fueled bildungsroman story builds on and enhances an earlier Superman origin.

Take the Man of Steel and humanize him and the world around him, Superman for all seasons is a prime example of the beauty of the Big Blue Boy Scout character. Sadly, his legacy is somewhat understated, especially unfortunate given the recent passing of Tim Sale. Although not mentioned as much as All Star Superman, Superman for all seasons is easily of the same caliber, and perhaps even larger.

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Superman For All Seasons Humanizes Clark Kent In A Breathtaking Way

Superman for all seasons wouldn’t exist without John Byrne Steel manwhich completely changed and revitalized the Last Son of Krypton during DC’s post-DCCrisis on Infinite Earths time. Turning the subdued god and his clumsy secret identity into a real character, Byrne set the stage for future writers to continue to do the same. Superman for all seasons presents this better than perhaps any other series ever released, starting with Clark Kent preparing to leave Smallville after graduation. When he reaches Metropolis, the comic shows the seasons changing to showcase his first few months as Superman.

Nothing illustrates this better than the work of Tim Sale. There’s an almost Norman Rockwell quality to the way Sale draws Smallville, giving it real small-town charm. Add the colors and everything pops off the page in a way that invites the reader into the world of the story. Clark’s tall stature and distant gaze make him look like a reckless young man at odds with his current situation and uncertain of his fate. Superman had never been portrayed that way before, and the story makes him utterly relatable while still being incredibly powerful. When he becomes Superman, Sale draws him almost as a humanoid force of nature. These artistic choices are crucial in nailing both aspects of the character. Other characters are given the same stylized yet human weight, like the cunning of Lois Lane, the folksy nature of Martha and Johnathan Kent, and the reptilian goo of corrupt Lex Luthor.

Many fans consider Superman for all seasons as one of the best Superman stories ever told, second only to the oft-referred to book by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Superman All Star. These titles approach Superman from very different angles, but that’s what makes Superman for all seasons works so well and ultimately makes it the best book. Superman All Star was a celebration of Superman’s Silver Age continuity, and it was as wacky and crazy as it gets. To that end, it focuses more on big, explosive settings and callbacks to classic stories. While incredibly heartfelt in its own way, it’s a shrine to Superman as an icon instead of a character.

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Superman for all seasons is the real Superman All-Star

Superman for all seasons doubles down on Clark Kent’s stronger characterization in the post-Crisis era, jumping to different timeline vignettes of his early days. These are more than just snippets of his life, and they serve to develop him both as a young hero and in the world as it is affected by his presence. It is in many ways a love story, a story in which her lovers play various roles. Clark must renounce his love for Lana Lang as he leaves Smallville, then soon develops a new relationship with Lois in Metropolis. Superman himself is love to the whole world, sharing his love in the most selfless way possible. Then there’s Lex Luthor, who is something of Metropolis’ spurned lover, the latter having left him for the kinder, gentler Superman.

The writing and fine art of Superman for all seasons are timeless, classic and transcendent in the way they carry the essence of the man of tomorrow in a dark but hopeful whisper. The story would be revisited in later tales involving Clark’s early life in Smallville, including a story in tribute to Jeph Loeb’s son, Sam, who died tragically after a battle with cancer. His biggest influence may have been on the rustic early seasons of the WB/CW TV show. Smallville, which Jeph Loeb also worked on. With the unfortunate passing of Tim Sale, the artistry of the book will likely resonate with readers more than ever. This lasting legacy shows what his story, his artwork, and Superman will always be for all generations and all seasons.

About Victoria Rothstein

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