The way writer Mark Waid gushes about finally writing a Superman series, you'd think "Superman: Birthright" refers to his own life and not the adventures of the Man of Steel.
"This is the dream project of a lifetime," Waid told an enthusiastic crowd Saturday during a DC Comics panel at the Wizard World: Chicago convention. "I've never had more fun in my life."
The tentatively titled "Birthright" will be a 12-issue maxi-series written by Waid and penciled by Leinil Yu. The story will focus on Superman's journey from Krypton to Smallville to Metropolis. That may sound like a typical "Year One" or origin story, ground that's already been admirably covered in projects like John Byrne's "Man of Steel" and Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Superman For All Seasons," but Waid and the folks at DC promise the title will bring something new to the Superman mythos. Whereas most Superman tales are told from the perspective of the caped hero or his mild-mannered alter-ego, Clark Kent, "Birthright" will focus on Kal-El's efforts to balance his alien nature with his life on planet Earth.
"It's a re-examination of the beginning of Superman," said Waid, who's never kept his love of the hero a secret. "If you think you know Superman, you'll be seeing some stuff that will be new to you. There will be elements that will be familiar from those (earlier 'Year One' books) and elements that will be unfamiliar - and some that will be surprising. There are a lot of surprises."
Although he complimented the various creators currently working on the Superman titles, Waid said he misses the famous love triangle that long existed between Superman, Lois Lane and Clark Kent - a triangle that collapsed once Lois and Clark married. "Birthright" will revisit the period of Superman's life before Lois knew Clark and Superman were the same man, Waid said.
In preparing for "Birthright," Waid said he was encouraged creatively by the successful "Smallville" television series, which focuses on young Clark Kent's life before he donned the cape and tights.
"It's just been so inspirational to me," Waid said. "What they're interested in is not the suit, but the guy inside the suit."
The Man of Steel likely will play important roles in several other upcoming projects, too. Doomsday - the villain who killed Superman in 1993 - returns in "Superman: Day of Doom," a four-issue mini-series timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the phenomenal "Death of Superman" storyline. The story, written and penciled by Dan Jurgens and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz, will examine how Metropolis still is affected by that terrible event.
Superman also will be one of the cornerstone characters in the long-awaited "JLA/Avengers" project that's courtesy of writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez. DC spokeswoman Patty Jeres didn't announce a publication date for the mini-series Saturday, but she did promise the comic is getting closer to completion.
"It's making really steady progress," Jeres told an appreciative crowd. "We've seen a lot of pages. Every character you'd want to see is in it, and they're doing what you'd want them to do. This is one of those projects that when the pages come in, people stop what they're doing (to see them). They're really fabulous."