A lanky, brooding Superman for the contemporary world

By Matt Moore
Thursday, October 28, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- The big "S'' is still on his chest, but the new Superman coming to the shelves of bookstores next week is not exactly the chipper and bright-eyed optimist of lore.

Instead, the kid from Krypton featured in "Superman: Earth One" that was released to comic-book shops Wednesday and is due in other bookstores on Tuesday sports a hoodie, a brooding brow and fashion sense that might be found in hipster lairs from Brooklyn to Seattle.

And that, said Dan DiDio, senior vice president and executive editor at DC Comics, is just what the company was aiming for when it approached J. Michael Straczynski, himself a noted comic-book writer who currently helms the company's flagship monthly "Superman" title.

"We always knew that we wanted to do a real, contemporary interpretation of Superman," he said. "And what we did is we reached out to Joe Straczynski. Joe is probably one of the biggest Superman fans out there." DiDio said DC Comics augured the retelling as a way to reach out to buyers not just in comic-book stores but in other bookstores, too -- fans of books and series like "Twilight" or Stieg Larsson's trilogy of crime novels.

"In this particular case what we did is we looked at the format," he said, adding that DC Comics has been "showing great strides in . . . the bookstore marketplace, and what we wanted to do was to create an original graphic novel featuring our most prominent character that we felt captured a contemporary tone and really was built with the bookstore market in mind."

The work draws upon the Superman mythology but re-creates it for a contemporary audience with a 20-year-old Clark Kent who's unsure how to use his super abilities as he makes his way through a grittier, more realistic Metropolis trying to find not just a job but meaning and purpose.

Given the predicted demand, DC Comics is already planning a similar treatment for Batman, which will be written by Geoff Johns, a writer who was named DC Comics' chief creative officer in February.

-- Associated Press

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