Written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner
The Premise: A series of short stories staring Superman (what a shocker) The Art Adams, Gary Frank and Joe Kubert stories are 4, 3 and 2 pages respectively and don't really do much. Both of the two other stories are well done. So we will do each one on it's own accord.
Story 1 "Who is Clark Kent's Big Brother" - Art by Eric Wright.
Premise - A re-telling of the classic origin of Mon-el. Gone is the Valor version of the character and the original Mon-el (with some tweaking) is introduced into the Superman mythos.
What I Liked:
1) The story. Okay I have always liked the older origin for Mon-el as he was one of my favorite characters. He always had an air of youth with tragedy mixed in that made him cooler then Superman, as Mon-el's was personal tragedy being stuck in the Phantom Zone for 1,000 years. They tweaked his origin a little from the silver age version but not much.
2) The art. A lighter, less serious super hero style, leaning towards simplistic. Really worked well for the story.
What I Didn't Like:
1) What the frell is going on. This is the whole issue rant and a general rant about Superman and his history. I have no clue as to what Superman's continuity is any more. In this issue we see multi-colored Kryptonite, Bizzaro earth, Clark as a young boy with all his powers, a Krypton that is somewhat like the Byrne version and somewhat not like the Byrne version, a Fortress of Solitude that references the giant key and the LOSH. It is like the silver age Superman is the new history for Superman with some elements removed. After Crisis on Infinite Earths and Byrne re-launched Superman we had a new status quo set. Then Mark Waid wrote Birthright (which I did not read) and I have "heard" that is Superman's new continuity. Now we have all of this and I'm totally lost. I don't care what his continuity is, just let me know so I can at least get a feel for who he is supposed to be.
Story 2 "The Criminals of Krypton" - Art by Rags Morales and Mark Farmer
Premise - The origin of General Zod, Ursa and Non.
What I Liked:
1) The art. I think Rags Morales is one of the top five artists in the business. His work is fluid and has a gravitas to it, that is unique. Having said that, this was a good effort, but far from his best, maybe Mark Farmer is not the best inker for Rags. Still I enjoyed the art a lot.
2) The story. Glad to get the whole back story for the main villains that Donner seems to enjoy using so much. I have not seen the Superman II Donner cut yet and haven't seen the movie for awhile, so it helps to know who the characters are and why they hate Kal-el so much. This is a harsher Krypton that I remember in recent portrayals and what happened to Non was tragic. Non was a huge man who was a scientist and friend of Jor-el. For speaking against the accepted beliefs in Krypton Non was lobotomized and made into a semi-mindless creature. I think Non said some racially insensitive things and then made a gay joke and was therefore banned from society.
What I Didn't Like: See Above.
One last note 39 pages of story and art for only $3.99, so a good deal. Almost twice the length for just $1 more.