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SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT

Writer and creator Mark Waid talks about the 12-issue limited series, BIRTHRIGHT:

"BIRTHRIGHT is a very Siegel-and-Shuster-friendly look at the origins of the Superman.  It's a very conscious attempt to assemble into one linear series, or volume, the 'Legend of the Man of Steel,' from Krypton through his first big, big adventure, the one that makes him known to everyone on Earth, the kind of thing you can hand kids from Baltimore to Botswana from now on when they ask who Superman is.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet!

"That said - and readers will just have to trust me on this until some of Leinil Francis Yu's sketches begin appearing - this isn't a 'retro' project in any way, shape or form.  As will become clear in the months to come, as paradoxical as this sounds right now, we're looking forward, not back.

Superman by Leinel Francis Yu

"We're hewing very closely to the basic character concepts as envisioned by Superman's creators - a champion of the weak and oppressed, a social crusader - and, without ever taking away from him that he's the best of the good guys.

"We tend to get ourselves into a trap with any long-running character that this or that is the 'right' version, accept no substitutes, but the wonder and magic of these guys is that they're stronger than that, more mythic. 

"Who is the 'real' Batman?  The current DC version?  Sure, you can make a strong case for that.  But what about the WB animated Batman?  He's known worldwide by far more people than buy his comic every month.  Or take Spider-Man?  Was his first love Mary Jane Watson?  About $400 million worth of ticket-buyers would say 'yes.'

"As long as the spirit of the character endures - as long as any story is told with love and respect for that character, as long as his basic concept hews true - how do details like that really matter?  Did Superman land on Earth as an embryo or an infant or a toddler?  What's Santa Claus's real name, Kris Kringle or Pere Noel?

"What 'becomes' the accepted Superman canon is beyond anyone's control.  It's what the general public decides it is.  Which is kind of my point - that, ultimately, it's more up to the readers than to the writers what to accept and what to reject.  All we can do is interpret the legend in as exciting, modern and dynamic a way as we can envision - the rest is out of our control.

"DC Vice President Dan Didio has long known - as has most of Earth's carbon-based lifeforms - of my deep love for Superman, and I'm flattered to say that one of the first calls he made on his new job was to me, pitching the opportunity to tackle a Superman project of this magnitude and scope.  I was dumbstruck, but once he convinced me it was a real invitation and not a prank, we spent most all of MegaCon 2002 discussing and refining it.

"It stands alone and is a story unto itself.

"In other words, we won't be actively denying the DC Universe and all its wonders, but you won't be seeing Batman or Krypto or the Justice League popping up.  Structurally, this is Superman: The Television mini-series.  This is pure pure Superman.

"The closest we've had thus far to a 'Superman: Year One' type project is the wonderful Superman For All Seasons, but by its nature and scope, it didn't touch on Krypton, on some of the other major villains, on kryptonite, or on many of the other elements of the Superman canon that make up a legend known the world over. 

"Also, the length of this project gives us the chance to spotlight the supporting cast in turn so that we can know everyone a little better - just wait until you find out what we learn about Ma Kent that we never knew before; that one actually gets a big, big smile from those few I've yet shared it with."

- Mark Waid, July 2002


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