Superman is one of those characters that you'd think has had every possible story about him told in 10 different ways simply because he's been around so long and been written about so heavily. Superman is also one of those characters that I never really thought about much until I met my girlfriend. It turned out that she was a big fan, even having a Superman tatoo (she was more of a fan of the movies than the comics, but that's beside the point). Because of her, Superman has taken to the forefront of my collection, along with Batman and the plethora of X-titles I have. It is also because of her that this story seems so... special.
Secret Identity, written by Kurt Busiek, tells the tale of a boy named Clark Kent. He is an outcast, made fun of, and constantly hating his name. You see, he's just a normal kid who was unluckily named after a comic book superhero by his parents. The first issue deals with this topic very well. I empathized and related a lot to the constant abuse Clark took in his high school, being something of a social pariah for most of my high school career. Something happens one day, though, that changes Clark's life, changes it in a way he had only dreamed about--he's developed the powers of Superman to become the world's first superhero.
The next chapter deals with his struggle to keep his secret, yet exercise his powers to do good. Of course the government would want someone like him for their own use. Clark's constant battle is complicated by meeting, oddly enough, a woman named Lois. On their initial date, she storms off knowing it was set up in jest, but Clark's subtle charm wins her over. It made me think back to when I first met Kristin and how she almost didn't give me a chance. The way Busiek writes his characters, I can't help but feel a connection with them. They're not just one-sided stereotypes, but instead they have so many little quirks that if you can't relate to them, something is definitely wrong.
As Lois and Clark fall hopelessly in love, Clark divulges his secret hoping that Lois will be accepting. The love shown between the two characters throughout the story is almost palatable. It's such a full, wholesome, and unbelievably trusting relationship that will ring true with anyone who's fallen in love.
As time goes on, Clark and Lois grown older, have children, and experience life just like all of us will over the course of our very own lives. In the way that it's written, it feels like you're reading about your parents or your neighbors or maybe even what you hope your future will be like... except for that small bit about superpowers. Sure, that leads to some interesting plot developments, but for the most part this is a story simply about living life and experiencing love. We only get one shot at this and this wonderfully uplifting tale will fill even the most callous heart with a little joy. I didn't think I'd say it, but the final reflective scenes showing Clark reflecting on his life, his family, and his experiences brought a few tears to my eyes. I never though I'd ever read a comic book of all things that could elicit such an emotional response, but Busiek pulls it of with ease. Read this story. I know you won't regret it.