Written by former Muncie native and Ball State professor Steven T. Seagle, the painted hardcover graphic novel It's a Bird is one of the most unusual Superman stories ever written, and certainly one of the most memorable.
It deals with Seagle's attempts to understand and write Superman, that most infallible of heroes, while at the same time struggling with the ultimate human fallibility: a genetic disease likely to doom him one day. It interweaves events from Seagle's life and disjointed memory with two-page stories of Superman from different points of view.
This story is a great standalone tale as well. As long as you know the basics of Superman's saga - and who doesn't? - you're good to go.
Artist Teddy Kristiansen delivers a standout piece of work, often creating great depth of emotion and storytelling with a few carefully chosen color schemes or slight lines of expression. His style is both minimalist and rich.
It's a Bird is a remarkable piece of work, a simultaneous deconstruction of the Superman mythos and Seagle's own life. Seagle examines Superman with a sort of mental cubism, exploring him from all angles at the same time. The costume. The secret identity. The ubermensch ideal combined with the immigrant saga of two Jewish kids named Joe and Jerry trying to make a living in comics. Power versus responsibility. And above all, the question of whether an immortal man who saves worlds countless times on four-color pages can save the soul of the mortal man who controls HIS world.
But at the core this is a very simple, compelling story of everyday people struggling with mortality and the way fiction, even superfiction, can help us cope with such human struggles.