It's a Bird

Author: Steven T. Seagle
Artist: Teddy Kristiansen
Titan Books
RRP: £17.99
1 84023 920 4
Available 23 August 2004

Steve's professional life has never looked brighter. He's been offered the chance to chronicle the adventures of the world's most famous hero: Superman. His personal life, though, has taken a turn for the worse: His father has gone missing, his mother is beside herself with worry, and a grim secret has come back to roost - a fatal genetic disease that threatens to destroy another generation of his family...

At its heart It's a Bird is not really a Superman tale. It's more an exploration of a hereditary disease that is seen as an dirty embarrassment that families don't talk about to outsiders - in fact they try to pretend that it doesn't exist (a little like out of wedlock pregnancies were a few decades ago). Huntington's disease attacks the fit and healthy rendering them defenceless and, in the final stages, unable to communicate with their loved ones or even eat. The only thing they have to look forward to is a slow and painful death.

But intertwined with this is an explanation as to why Superman, and all he represents, has been a thorn in Steve's - the hero of the piece - side. Part biographical, author Steven T. Seagle grips the reader from the opening page. Is the guy crazy turning down a shot at writing a Superman story? Yes, he is... but for a very good reason.

I loved the way that Seagle inserts people in this collection who are obviously individuals that he knows in real life and have asked him to include them in this story. These include his doctor, and friend who is employed in the field of taxi maintenance.

The main narrative is peppered with one or two page Superman story ideas. Some are amusing, some unnerving, but each are drawn in a variety of styles - hats off to Teddy Kristiansen for making this appear like a dozen artists have worked their magic.

Don't feel cheated if you came to this book expecting to read a Superman tale. You do, but a more mature and adventurous story than has ever been told in the Man of Steel's entire history.

Nick Smithson

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