When it seemed that Marvel might get the rights to Superman, John Byrne wrote an eight-page proposed plot for the first issue. My beat-by-beat description of Byrne’s plot yesterday generated a wave of very interesting, very insightful comments, among them these:
Marc Miyake said…
Thanks for summarizing Byrne’s plot. I wish you had reviewed it, but maybe it’s best that you didn’t because we readers can then give our own evaluations without being influenced.
I wasn’t terribly fond of much of Byrne’s published revamp, but in some ways I prefer it to this unused plot:
1. The “searing radiation”: This element is confusing and unnecessary. Could Lara have been poisoned by it? Maybe not, since Kal-El wasn’t. Did it mutate them, just as cosmic rays changed the Fantastic Four? Whatever changes affected Lara — if any — obviously weren’t enough to enable her to survive the crash … despite Jor-El’s prediction that the “additional factor […] that will help them [plural!] survive.” Maybe Byrne meant to introduce the “additional factor” in some later issue.
2. Lara dying on Earth. Byrne has mentioned this in an earlier proposal. This serves no purpose I can see other than to differentiate this origin from the classic one in which Jor-El and Lara die as a couple. I recall Byrne saying that Lara’s death would serve a purpose: she’d die from kryptonite and thereby prove that it was fatal. Maybe he came up with that after he turned in this plot.
3. Martha’s “pregnancy”: IIRC, in the published revamp, Martha had a cover story: she was pregnant when the Kents were snowed in (sorry if I got this wrong). No cover story here.
4. Jonathan’s death: In the late 30s version of the origin, the passing of both Kents marks Clark’s manhood. This death just seems random. I guess Martha has to survive to sew Clark’s costume.
5. The raid reminds me of Spider-Man’s origin: in both case, a failure to act led to terrible consequences. Would Byrne’s Superman have been perpetually haunted by this incident? Was this a conscious attempt to Marvelize Superman, to give him a psychological weak point? I don’t like the idea of associating Superman with failure.
6. The subway rescue is large in scale, but not as spectacular as the space plane rescue in the published revamp.
It’s still a decent done-in-one, though. I’m sure I’d have loved Byrne’s art, and the conclusion cracked me up: “Sorry, the caped man says, he’s already given his story to someone else, Clark Kent.” And I’m relieved to see that teenage Clark didn’t become a football star which I’ve long thought was out of character. (Maybe he did off-panel.)
I wonder how readers who have read the New 52 relaunches of the Superman titles would react to this plot.