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Superman: Birthright

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Superman: Birthright

Official Name
Superman: Birthright
Storyline Aliases






Superman: Birthright presented a modernized revamping of Superman's origin and early history. It was first presented in the 12-issue Superman: Birthright limited series. Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright is now the accepted canonical origin story of Superman. Waid was assigned the task with the purpose being to streamline the comic origin making it similar to both the movies (with Superman Returns then on the horizon) as well as Smallville, which had proven very popular. The following summary is from the 12-issue series.

The cold, fairly dystopian re-imagining of Krypton created by John Byrne in the 1986 The Man of Steel limited series was jettisoned. Much like Jeph Loeb and others had done with their "Return to Krypton" arcs, Waid restored the idea of Krypton being more like it had been in the Silver Age, a place of great wonder and myth. In Jor-El's words, the "people grew tired of war, so they made peace; they feared the unknown, so they conquered it with science; and they yearned for heaven, so they created it beneath their very feet...". A substantial change was with the S-shield as well, no longer was it a symbol for his family's house, as it had been in the Silver Age, or merely an "S" standing for Superman, as it had been in Byrne's revamp, but now it was the Kryptonian symbol for hope. It was shown to be a popular symbol, used on flags, paintings, jewelry, and monuments all over Krypton. It was also on a red, blue, and yellow tapestry that was included in Kal-El's rocket ship. Jor-El was still the scientist no one would believe, but instead of Kal-El being an embryo when he was rocketed off, he was again said to be a young child.

The Kents were still farmers, as always, but they were even younger than they had been before. Whereas John Byrne had portrayed them as perhaps in their early to mid thirties when they found Kal-El (making them in their mid sixties or perhaps even seventies during Superman's adventures), Waid portrays them as being between 20 and 25 (again to make them closer to their Smallville counterparts). Their characters are also given an overhaul in their personalities to make them more "modern." Martha, for example, is far from the simple lovable, wise farmer's wife who loves to bake and knit. She is portrayed as being fascinated with aliens, U.F.O.s, etc., and even runs her own website dedicated to such stuff when Clark is in his twenties.

The entire dynamic between John and Clark regarding his Superman identity has also been reversed. In Byrne's era, Superman was committed to using his powers in secret, and once "outed" he retreated to Smallville, unsure of what to do. It was Jonathan's suggestion that he adopt a costume and dual identity, inspired by the JSA of the 1940s. Waid's story, however, has Clark coming up with the idea of the costume and identity, and shows Jon dismayed at the idea, feeling like Clark is trying to abandon his identity (and, by extension, his connection to his earth family).

Waid also brought about a new (or arguably, reintroduced an old) vision power, sometimes referred to as "soul vision." Essentially, Clark can see the "aura" surrounding a living being, an aura that disappears when they die. Waid introduced this as a way of explaining why Clark feels so compelled to defend life, as he can literally see it. Going along with this power, Waid also changed Clark into a vegetarian. These decisions have met with mixed reactions from fans.



Items: None known.
Vehicles: None known.
Weapons: None known.


  • Due to the reality warping effects of Superboy-Prime's pounding of the dimensional barrier, Birthright and Man of Steel are now both canonical.


  • No trivia.

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Man of Steel 1B
Origin of Superman
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The Origin of Superman is a popular concept fundamental to the Superman mythos that has received multiple treatments and iterations, usually involving significantly different versions of events.

Superman Our Worlds at War Vol 1 TP
Superman Family Storyline
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This event or storyline is specifically related to Superman, or to members of the Superman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Superman Storylines category.

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