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File:Superman Birthright 1462.jpg

In the beginning...

For ten thousand orbits, a clump of dirt careened around a red dwarf star. And it accomplished miracles no-one will ever remember.
Our son. The Last Son of Krypton. Let him never forget.

Superman: Birthright is a 12-issue limited series published by DC Comics, lasting from September, 2003 to September, 2004. Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Lenil Francis Yu, Birthright brought Superman and his origins into the 21st Century. Originally intended to be an alternate continuity, until the events of Infinite Crisis, it was actually retconned into Superman's Canon origin, replacing John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries. Waid described the project as being an "Ultimate" take on the the Superman mythos. He wanted anyone, be it long-time fans or newcomers, to be able to pick the comic up and enjoy the story. Waid also placed emphasis on making Clark Kent much more relatable and avoiding him being seen as "dull."

Beginning in the familiar setting of the doomed planet Krypton, Kal-El's parents Jor-El and Lara are forced to send their only son against the odds to a galaxy light-years away. The story quickly finds itself following Clark traveling the world to better find his place in it. Soon enough, he is inspired to become a symbol of hope for the people of Earth, assuming two new personas: Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter, and the hero Superman.

His arrival is met with both awe and fear, with Superman now fighting to earn the trust of the citizens of Metropolis against modern cynicism and one Lex Luthor.

Tropes found in this series:

  • Abusive Parents: Luthor's father believed he had the next "Einstein" on his hands and was completely ruthless in pushing his son to his creative limits.
  • Alien Invasion: Luthor fakes one.
  • Alternate Continuity: Intended to be this but was then made Canon, then went back to being this when Infinite Crisis retconned Superman's origins.
    • What made it particularly problematic as canon was that it showed Superman over a decade younger but in a completely contemporary setting with up to date technology. At best, you could infer that there's been some sort of Medieval Stasis over the last decade of DC continuity.[1]
  • Aura Vision: One of Superman's many types of vision is the ability to see a distinct energy source around living creatures. It fades when they die. Seeing them "empty" like this disturbs Clark and prompts him to become a vegetarian.
  • Beware the Superman: Luthor and elements of the media fuel this sentiment in Metropolis.
  • Big Bad: Lex Luthor, who else?
  • Child Prodigy: Lex, who we see in his Teen Genius years during flashbacks.
  • Clark Kenting: Martha and Clark go into detail on his new "disguise." Never wear clothes that show off his physique, unkempt hair, his mannerisms and Martha even lampshades the fact the glasses aren't there to hide his face but to tone down his "unique" eye color.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue 10 featured the corpse of Superman on its front in all its creepy detail. Not that it actually happens to Superman, considering there's another 2 issues to go.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: All Lex ever wanted was to converse with an alien life-form, but when the moment finally occurs, he's so far gone that Superman sees him as a monster and Lex is more concerned with his bruised ego.
  • Death By Origin Story: Jor-El and Lara.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Such is Lex's ego, he takes Superman's public shunning of him as a deeply personal slight. Despite the fact Superman was completely justified in his actions given Lex's direct involvement in the gunships going berserk. So Lex goes out of his way to destroy Superman in typical supervillain fashion.
  • The Dragon: "Van-Gar" to Luthor.
  • Evil Former Friend: Lex.
  • Human Aliens
  • Insufferable Genius: Lex, from a very young age.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Averted. It's implied the same piece of kryponite that Kal-El's ship inadvertently took with him to Earth is the only one Lex has in his possession. Though Luthor certainly uses that one rock to devastating effect.
  • Last of His Kind
  • Real Men Eat Meat: Averted. Superman is a vegetarian.
  • Shout-Out: There's the mention of Wayne-Tech competing with LuthorCorp and we have Superman calling Lex a "diseased maniac." Not forgetting the panel referencing the cover of Action Comics No. 1.
  • X-Ray Vision
  1. Waid's own thoughts on it was that the infamous sliding timeline of the DC Universe meant that in a few years the "modern" references would seem dated and period piece anyway, so it didn't matter.