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Superman: Secret Origin

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Superman: Secret Origin
September 2009 — August 2010
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Writers Geoff Johns
Artists Gary Frank
Comic Book Story Arcs
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Superman: Secret Origin is a comic book mini-series that details the origin of Superman in the post-Infinite Crisis continuity.

The story introduces several new elements into Superman's origin. Among these are an explanation for why Clark Kent wears glasses before he has a need for a disguise, the introduction of Krypto, and a completely new origin for Metallo and Parasite.

Secret Origin is told mostly from Clark's perspective, and save for a few holographic recordings, does not depict any scenes on Krypton. It begins with Clark as young teenager discovering his abilities, and his romance with Lana Lang. The story concludes shortly after his public debut including confrontations with Lex Luthor, Parasite, Metallo, and Lois Lane's father, General Sam Lane .

This is the first post-Crisis origin to include references to Clark Kent as Superboy. However, unlike the history from pre-Crisis, Clark does not have a public career as Superboy, acting entirely in secret while in Smallville. He does use this persona openly in the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes. However, his memories of these events are erased by Saturn Girl, remembered by Clark mostly as vague dreams.

Johns also includes the concept that Lex Luthor and Clark knew each other as youths in Smallville, but the two are hardly acquaintances. This version introduces Lex's sister, Lena Luthor, and his cruel father, Lionel Luthor, as well.


Book One: The Boy of Steel

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  • Date: September 23, 2009
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 40 pages

As the story opens, Clark Kent is playing football with Pete Ross and some other friends. In a display of emerging strength, Clark accidentally breaks Pete's arm, resulting in a cast that gains Pete some attention from the girls at school. Clark's ability to see through solid objects manifests here and causes some panic. Lana Lang does her best to calm Clark, and reminisces about another moment when his abilities came in handy. As she kisses him, heat shoots from Clark's eyes, catches a hallway banner on fire, and sets off the school sprinklers.

At home, Jonathan and Martha Kent decide that it's time they show him something they've been hiding. Buried in the barn is a rocket, which Jonathan describes as that which carried Clark to this planet. Upon touch, a holographic recording of Jor-El and Lara appear to the trio. Clark is upset at what this realization means, and runs off into the cornfield.

The next morning, Martha fixes Clark with a pair of glasses made with lenses that broke free from his ship. She realized that the ship was the only object that could retain the heat from his eyes, and thought that wearing the glasses would help if he had any more problems with his power. Later, Martha returns to the ship where she is shown more footage from Krypton and its people's way of life, culture and style.

At a town fair, Clark meets a young man older than him by some years, named Lex Luthor. He is selling his science books to help fund his way out of town, and away from his abusive father. Lex also has a jar containing Kryptonite at his table, which causes Clark to become ill. As the glass shatters, a shard cuts Lex's hand, and he runs away with the Kryptonite in had, just as a tornado approaches. Lana has become caught up in the twister, and Clark races to help her. As the wind pick him up off the ground, the two realize that he is flying. The pair make an awkward landing in a nearby stream and share a kiss.

That night, Clark confides to his parents that he wants to use these abilities to help people. Martha insists on him wearing something more durable. Inspired by the images she saw from Clark's homeworld, she fashions a suit for her son with his help. Clark is not fond of the costume and vows that this will be the last time he wears it.

Book Two: Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes

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  • Date: October 28, 2009
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 32 pages

Lex's father Lionel, driving drunk, drives off a cliff, but is rescued by Clark. No one will believe a "flying boy" saved him. Clark has thus far managed to stay out of sight; partly out of embarrassment over his costume.

Clark looks to the skies, sees into distant galaxies, and wonders if he's alone. He studies Dr. Erdel's book the next day, and Lex interrupts him in the researching of Metropolis for the building Lex plans to someday construct there. Lex doesn't want to be friends, though.

Clark has been avoiding the other kids, partly for fear of accidentally hurting them or betraying his superpowers. He tells Lana he only wants to be friends. He overhears the other kids making fun of him.

He is soon interrupted by Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legionnaires bend their rules to take Clark to the future. There, they fight a group of human supremacists.

Brainiac 5 interrupts their revelry to remind them of the consequences of their actions and to be careful not to reveal future occurrences to Clark. The Legionnaires return him to the present, and gave him a Legion flight ring with which to communicate.

As Clark describes the future to his parents, a rocket approaches the house. Clark stops and unseals it to reveal Krypto. Meanwhile, Lex hears that his father has died of heart failure. Lex, gleeful, plans to use Lionel's insurance policy to go to Metropolis.

Book Three: Mild-Mannered Reporter

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  • Date: November 25, 2009
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 30 pages

As an adult, Clark walks around Metropolis, awestruck. He comes to the dilapidated Daily Planet building. In the elevator he meets Rudy Jones, an overweight janitor. At the main floor of the Planet office, he encounters Ron Troupe, Steve Lombard, Cat Grant, and photography intern Jimmy Olsen. He meets Lois Lane and Perry White as they debate over a story rewrite.

Perry cites the fact that going after Lex has nearly killed the Daily Planet financially, and Lois fights back with the nobility of idealism. Perry tells her to not confuse cynicism with idealism; that sometimes "something that looks good is actually that good." He partners Clark with Lois.

Lois takes Clark to the LexCorp building for the unveiling of a piece of technology, but the Daily Planet isn't welcome there. Lois, knowing this, disguises herself, has Clark distract the guards, and sneaks in.

Lex unveils Metallo, his powered exoskeleton battlesuit, which Lois observes with interest as a potential machine of war. When the security guard identifies and attempts to catch Lois, she flees, trips and falls off the building. Clark, hearing Lois, sneaks into an alley, changes his costume, and rescues her. When people question him, he flees, fearing he's done the wrong thing unveiling himself to the world.

Book Four: Parasites

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  • Date: January 27, 2010
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 32 pages

Lex's daily tradition is to select someone from a crowd around his tower, and provide them with a new life. He chooses Rudy from the crowd. Rudy is brought in to begin the program, and is offered all he can eat. He accidentally drops a doughnut, which touches some bio-waste, and eats it... and begins to turn into something hideous.

Lex, curious about the flying man, has his agents collect Lois and Clark. Lois uses the opportunity to question Lex, but Clark overhears Rudy in the hallway, and ducks out. Rudy has become the Parasite, latched onto a LexCorp employee, and sucked the life out of him. Clark manages to change into his costume and get Parasite out of the building.

Parasite attacks Clark, but is unsuccessful. Clark punches, burns, and freezes him. The people, observing, are grateful, but don't know what to make of Clark; Lex appears and tries to foster fear. Clark leaves.

On the roof of the Daily Planet, Clark sees Jimmy on the ledge, and mistakenly thinks he's about to jump, They talk about feeling ostracized in Metropolis, and how Jimmy is thinking of returning to New York. Clark persuades Jimmy to stay, since he's his "only friend" in Metropolis. He lets Jimmy take his picture.

The next issue runs with Lois's story and Jimmy's picture, naming him "Superman." Lex reading the story, is furious, and declares personal war on Perry White.

Book Five: Strange Visitor

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  • Date: April 7, 2010
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 30 pages

A fire in the Daily Planet’s main warehouse almost proves fatal, but Superman rescues them. Meeting up with Lois and Jimmy, Superman concludes the fire is arson, part of an attack on the Daily Planet. Public opinion is wary of Superman, but in part due to the Planet’s articles, opinion is turning, and the Planet’s circulation is improving by 700%.

Lex calls upon General Sam Lane, Lois' father, who agrees to help Lex in exchange for weapons technology. Lex reveals that Superman is an alien, and can likely be stopped by the kryptonite rock Lex controls. The kryptonite had, in part, turned Rudy into the Parasite, which had hurt Superman. If used to power the Metallo battlesuit, it could be used to stop him.

Lois is greeted by Sgt. John Corben, with whom her father prefers she have a relationship. Lois refuses to date him, citing previous refusals. John persists, and begins to get rough, but Clark steps in. John tries to intimidate Clark with a firm handshake, but Clark is considerably stronger. John leaves to meet Lex and Sam, and agrees to pilot Metallo.

Clark takes Lois to lunch, where she continues to notice that he's not all he seems to be. Clark hears an explosion and leaves to become Superman. The explosion was a fake; Sam Lane had caused it in order to meet Superman. Sam accuses him of being an alien, and wants to know what his goals are—particularly with Lois. Superman refuses to continue the interview and tries to leave, so Sam orders the Army to attack.

The soldiers do little to Superman, but John, in the Metallo suit, manages to weaken him by exposing him to the kryptonite. Ricocheting bullets hit the kryptonite, which explodes and injures John. Superman escapes.

Sam and his troops arrive at the Daily Planet, and orders it shut down until they can get definitive answers about Superman.

Book Six: The End

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  • Date: August 25, 2010
  • Written by Geoff Johns
  • Pencils: Gary Frank
  • Inks: Jon Sibal
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Cover by Gary Frank
  • 40 pages

Lex takes John into surgery and replaces his heart with a kryptonite generator, turning him into Metallo. He runs off to a rematch with Superman.

Sam reveals to Lois, Perry, and the Daily Planet staff, that Superman is an alien, and that they have the kryptonite to stop him. While Jimmy distracts the soldiers with flashbulbs, Lois escapes to warn Superman.

Soldiers find Superman in the sewers. They battle him as he pleads with them to stand down, for the safety of the bystanders. Metallo enters the fight, and he begins to attack his own soldiers in order to get to Superman.

Lois arrives to warn him about the kryptonite and tell him to flee, but he refuses to give up. Metallo attacks him with a kryptonite ray, threatening the bystanders, but Superman melts a manhole cover over the kryptonite and flies Metallo into space until the lack of oxygen knocks him out.

Sam arrives and orders Superman and Lois arrested. The crowd turns on the Army, and Superman orders the crowd to stop, telling them that they, not the Army, not Lex Luthor, nor himself, are meant to be Metropolis's saviors.

Superman meets with Lex and tells him Metropolis doesn't belong to him: "You don't own us." Lex objects, since Superman isn't from Earth. Superman replies, "This is my home," and leaves. Later, Lex goes to pick another person from the crowd to give a new life to, only no one is there.

Afterward, The Daily Planet celebrates becoming the top selling newspaper in the city. Superman visits Lois atop the Daily Planet building and thanks her for making him feel like he belongs there. He starts the Planet’s rusty globe spinning again. Lois asks, "Are you a man or an alien?" His response is, "I'm Superman."

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