This week’s graphic novel of the week is Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal, DC Comics. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s six part story may be the umpteenth retread of a not particularly secret origin, but it is unquestionably one of the best – although it opts for old-school tropes and idealized, comfy portrayals, the story successfully remains on the right side of tawdry, and is engrossingly adept. More or less an updated primer for Superman’s first twenty years, Geoff Johns initially takes us on a ride through the character’s mythos, before arriving at the crux of the book, involving a clever and innovative strand – The Man Of Steel’s arch-enemy Luthor’s deeply sinister control over a decadent Metropolis, which segues into the inevitable battle between the two protagonists for the city’s soul. The well-worn motif of Kent / Superman being the alienated alien, desperate to fit in despite his burdensome super-powers, works simply due to Johns’s tight scripting and Frank’s dependably excellent art, which captures the spirit of the Swan and Anderson years whilst remaining cinematic (there are more than a few nods to the 1970s films). The characterization, despite being sketchy in places (Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen do come across as plot devices at times, and the Legion of Super-Heroes episode is more or less a sideshow, albeit entertaining) is above average, with Lois Lane’s delineation and backstory a particular highlight. Even better however is their take on a particularly haughty and contemptuous Luthor, who is as engagingly megalomaniacal (and downright nasty) as one could hope. A classy, compulsive slice of nostalgia that transcends the familiar and is never less than a cracking read, not to mention a reminder of the magic of classic comics.