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on 24 October 2003
I should say here that I am not a comic book reader on a regular basis. This book took me by surprise. It made me realize what I loved about the Man of Steel when I was six years old and spent every penny I could beg from my dad on buying Superman comics. It made me realize, also, what Superman means to me now, thirty some-odd years later, and how there is still resonance and life for this great literary creation (and I'll back that up with detailed arguments if I have to) all these years since his creation.
Superman, here, is a man, and a man of conscience. His greatest power has never been his strength or his speed or his invulnerability. It has always been his conscience, his need to set things right, to save lives, to basically "do the right thing." In "Superman for All Seasons," his humanity and his
conscience are brought out and emphasized. It is easy to lose sight of those two attributes, and even DC has lost sight of them before. Not here. They are front and center, for your attention. And you should pay attention.
Loeb, Sale and Hanson put Superman/Clark Kent back in his roots, showing his life on the farm, his first love, and the tragedies and triumphs that make him who he is. He is not simply a "big blue boy scout" here. He is a man of conscience, and someone who broods a lot, and someone who doesn't have all the answers. But what he does have, he gives freely, and he does his absolute best at all times. Other readers have commented on the differences between Batman and Superman, but they all come down to this: Batman is motivated by vengeance. Superman is motivated by responsibility.Responsibility is underrated. Vengeance is more sexy, but what quality would you rather have in a fireman?
This is a "corny" story. It's about responsibility, and caring for people, and doing the right thing. And yes, there's even a dog. I hate to use the word "values," since it has been co-opted by people who have no interest in the true matters of the heart, but this story has them. It's worth reading if you're six or if you're forty-six, regardless of whether you care about comics or not, simply because it finds the heart - the essence - of this hero, and it reflects the heart of what is good about Superman. And by extension it shows what is good about the society that created Superman as a literary figure.
I cannot recommend "Superman for All Seasons" more highly; it is essential for students of American culture, for people who still dream, and for people who want a good story well told.
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on 9 February 2006
I became a huge fan of Loeb and Sale since reading their wonderful noiresque work on Batman in The Long Haloween and it's sequel Dark Victory and upon hearing about this book was intrigued to find out their take on Krypton's last son.
Those seeking wall to wall action may be disappointed but make no mistake the depth of character, masterful storytelling and sumptuous artwork is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.
Loeb and Sale succeed in doing what very few writers who tackle the character are able to do. Make Superman vulnerable and someone a reader can really relate to. It does this by helping us share Clark's growing pains and apprehensions about his powers and their implications (like Smallville but better).
The supporting cast are superbly fleshed out with Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lana lang and ol' Pa Jonathan Kent providing narratives for the corresponding seasons.
Despite the book's character driven montage there are some superb set pieces and action sequences and the artwork provides a silver age style nostalgia to a timeless Superman story.
And for this price whether or not to buy this book should not be an issue.
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on 16 October 2013
Despite being a massive Superman fan, it's taken me a while to get to this book - which many readers put forward as one of the "must-read" Superman books - because it's written by Jeph Loeb. I really don't like Loeb's writing and his Batman stuff is among the most overrated garbage I've ever read. That said, I felt compelled to read this if only to say I have and can say with authority that it too is terrible - which is why I was pleasantly surprised with what I found with Superman For All Seasons. It's still not an amazing Superman read but, considering that I was expecting far worse from Loeb, this turned out to be a decent Superman book.

Right away the book is structured in a gimmicky four-part/four-seasons fashion for no real reason except that Loeb has some weird fascination with this kind of symmetry with time as seen in his most famous book, Batman: The Long Halloween, which is based around public holidays. Each of the four chapters are narrated by an important person in Superman's life though never by Superman himself - Jonathan Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Lana Lang (lotta LL's in Superman's life).

First thing you're going to notice as it's on the cover is Superman's character design. Tim Sale's a decent artist but I'm sorry, this character design is just ridiculous. His face is too small for such a massive head, he looks by turns a cartoon character - in a comic! - or like Down's Syndrome Superman. I just don't understand his design, his body is too balloon-like, especially once he puts on the costume, to take seriously.

Like so many of Superman's books, this one is also concerned with retelling the character's origins: how he slowly discovered his powers, moved from Smallville to Metropolis, met Lois and Lex and became Superman. It's a well-worn story done numerous times in the 75 years the character's been around (by the way, Happy 75th Birthday, Superman!), but a fascinating one nonetheless, hence it's endless repetition. But I would argue it's not nearly as good as other origin stories like John Byrne's Man of Steel or Mark Waid's Birthright.

The first part in Smallville is pretty good as we see a young Clark discovering his abilities and there's a nice visual reference to the first Chris Reeve Superman movie when Clark races a train (and of course beats it). But there's a scene between Clark and Jonathan that summed up the book for me. Clark is afraid of his powers, standing in a field looking lost and Jonathan walks out to talk to his son. Martha stands on the porch, along with the reader, as we see, in the distance, two specks, one Jonathan the other Clark, standing, then move together at the end in a hug. That distance seemed unnecessary - why couldn't we have seen Jonathan and Clark, father and son, up close? Why couldn't we hear their conversation? Waid does something similar in Birthright but doesn't keep the reader at a distance, instead drawing them in right into the conversation and we see the two interact up close in real time. Loeb's choice to keep the reader well away from Jonathan and Clark not only makes reading this book a less personable experience but also sums up the book's coldness. Everything is narrated in the past tense for some reason and makes reading it feel less immediate and urgent.

But Loeb does get the characters right, and most importantly gets Superman right. At the end of the Smallville sequence, a twister devastates the small town and is also the first time Clark behaves like Superman sans costume. After saving several peoples' lives, he looks troubled and has this great look in his eyes as he surveys the destruction and murmurs "I could have done more..." which is Superman in a nutshell. Later in Lex's sequence, Lex says "Fame is fleeting... but Lex Luthor is forever!" which also sums up that character nicely (it's also worth noting that this is still John Byrne's Lex, ie. middle-aged, paunchy, with red hair and a constant cigar poking out of his mouth rather than the lean, bald figure that will emerge shortly after). Lois behaves true to form, independently, strongly, and only once as the damsel in distress, and even Jimmy has his classic bow-tie! Also, and this is a very minor point, but Shelby, Clark's dog, is in this one which I loved seeing (I'm a dog person).

I felt it was an inferior origin story because Loeb doesn't really explain much. Clark moves to Metropolis from Smallville, but why does he get a job at a newspaper? Where did his Superman outfit come from? How did he meet Lois and when did he fall in love with her? Is he in love with her? When did he make the choice to become Superman? How long as he been Superman - literally just a season? Where did his personal philosophy come from? Where did the Superman/Lex rivalry spring from? These are things that are addressed better in Birthright where we see the formation of a character - in All Seasons we see Superman fully formed. He literally transitions from Clark Kent from Smallville one minute and then Clark Kent, superstar reporter and Superman the next. It's too quick and almost lazy because his origin story is so well known, that Loeb doesn't even try telling it properly. But most importantly this shows that Loeb doesn't have anything new to say about the character, or have anything interesting to add to Superman's story - no new angles are explored, it's like watching a jigsaw come together: flat and predictable.

Also the Jenny Vaughn/Toxin scene was very weird. Superman saves Jenny from a burning building and she becomes obsessed with him. Lex uses this brief connection to Superman in a convoluted plan to infect the city with an airborne virus only he has the antidote for, and then gives to Jenny - who is now conditioned as a hero of sorts, stupidly called Toxin - so that Superman can lift her up as she sprays the antidote over the city. Except through another arbitrary twist of fate, Jenny dies and Superman is unable to stop her, sending him into a deep depression where he stops being Superman temporarily. Wha...? There are just too many questions over this bizarre sequence to convince me that it's a positive addition to the book.

Sale's art is pretty good, I guess, I'm not a big fan though his stuff here looks better than his Batman art thanks in large part to colourist Bjarne Hansen who really brings the images to life. Sale often uses splash pages in his comics and there are lots of them in this book, though unlike splash pages in most superhero comics, Sale's are often focused on landscape imagery and the ones here, in particular the sunset on the Kent farm, are very beautiful with Hansen's colours giving the scene a natural majesty. But I also really liked Sale's depiction of Smallville, it's streets, it's malt shop (really!), and the splash page of Superman stopping a train was really eye-catching too.

Superman For All Seasons is an ok origin story. Loeb crucially gets the characters and their voices right but doesn't do anything different with his version of Superman's story to help readers understand the character. The story isn't spectacular or especially original, but Sale's art is the best I've seen it thanks to Hansen's colours. Considering I was dreading this, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found - Loeb's best book! Which is still only average. Read Byrne's Man of Steel and Waid's Birthright for better Superman origin stories and you'll see where I'm coming from.
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on 21 February 2013
This is a look at Superman through the eyes of other, the human beings he effects, some positively and some (at least one) negatively.
It's set in a good old fashioned classic Man of Tomorrow back drop, a year is never given but is insisted. The story is for the most part dealt with in journalistic fashion from supporting characters, eg Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and the story goes on with how his exsistance makes them react.
I loved this and is a very welcome story to my collection, I'm a big fan of Loeb and Sale and I was really into their Batman series. I wouldn't say that it is essential reading for Superman, maybe essential Loeb and Sale. If I had to think of something that is a negative I would say that TIm Sale artwork is more suited to Batman than Superman.
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on 28 December 2006
This is unlike usual Superman comics because it lacks intense plotting, heavyset morality, and striking iconography. Instead, it's a pretty gentle read for people who already like Superman and just want to bask in a subtle homage.

There's very little plot, and even the dialogue is very simple. The whole story is told in a reflective, almost wistful, tone. It's pretty much a portrait of Clark Kent, without spelling everything out for you. The dialogue isn't the sort of thing that will immediately grab you, but it creates a nice sense of character.

The real center of this comic is the art though. Tim Sale tries to capture a distinct mood with his drawing. The panels are big and open, there are loads of panoramic views of landscapes, large, empty fields and rooms, scenes are often drawn from a distance, and even Clark Kent is drawn as quite introverted and passive. Hansen's colours are also really beautiful, he gives the book warmth and a natural sort of look.

Although this is a great comic, I would recommend reading a bit in a bookshop before getting it. It's pretty different, and there's not much to it. But if you like it's gentle, atmospheric style then it's a good comic to have in your collection
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on 29 August 2013
A wonderful Superman tale by dynamic duo Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It tells the story of Superman's first year in Metropolis through the eyes of various members of The Man of Steel's supporting cast. It has the usual Superhero stuff, but my favourite parts take part in Smallville-the writing and art conveys a sense of smalltown Americana. A must read for any Superman or comic book fan-highly recommended.
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on 20 August 2010
I'm more of a Batman fan and when I got this out of the library I did so based on my love of Loeb & Sale's work in the Batman canon. However, this title did not disappoint. It is a beautiful story of an adolescent Clark Kent finding out who he should be. Themes of growing up, finding your place, as well as a brilliant insight into why Kal-el had to be more than just Clark Kent living in Smallville create a great story that really delves into the reason why Superman exists and is so popular. The narration is from the perspective of the people who know Clark or Superman well and their take on him and Superman's legacy. Despite not going into the mind of the Man of Steel, the story shows a mature understanding of who he is and why he is the way he is. A beautiful story which should appeal to fans of the characters, fans of the author and more besides.

So far I haven't mentioned Tim Sale's artwork. Always a brilliant artist, Sale here almost surpasses himself. The Norman Rockwell style art is beautiful, using a soft palette and great use of colour. The book features many double page panels which are breathtaking.

In terms of story, themes and artwork, I highly recommend this to any fans of DC comics, or Loeb & Sale. Hopefully you'll enjoy as much as I have!
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on 9 July 2001
Following the exploits of a young Clarke Kent, this story follows how our young hero comes to terms with his powers,responsibilitys failures and success. Set aside from the normal continuing DC storyline this story is split into four parts,each representing a season,each season linking into a larger story.Each season or part is narrated by a different character each with a different view on either Clark or Superman. Not only does Jeph Leob give us a great story but also tells it in a very clever way.The art work from Tim Sale & Bjarne Hansen is special to say least...This is not the usual run of the mill comic book.If your expecting giant robots,spaceships and mutants your going to be very disapointed.This books takes a closer look at what makes Superman who he is.A psycological analisis of is human nature if you will.A must for all collectors..Dont wait for the paperback..buy this book now
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on 3 December 2005
I bought this book due to great reviews and recomendations from fellow comic geeks.This book is very slowpaced and good for a quick read.I enjoyed it even though i thought it was a little bit lacking in plot.Personally i enjoy comic books with capturing plots and fast paced action.This is a must have for any Superman superfan just for the great artwork by Tim Sale.
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on 6 May 2013
A great hark back to simpler times and why it's important to acquire roots. Gorgeous artwork adds to the homely, warm feel of this book and sets it apart from the other superman origin stories.
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