For the two people in the world who don't know the origin of Superman, 2009 will see a chance for them to catch up - and for hardcore comic fans to find out what counts as "canon" these days once and for all - when DC Comics launches the six-issue Superman: Secret Origin series, retelling the story of how Clark Kent grew up to become the world's greatest hero for a contemporary audience one more time. Writer Geoff Johns explains what makes this take on the familar stories so special.

This isn't the first "Secret Origin" that Johns - who'll be creating the series along with Action Comics partner Gary Frank (They'll be replaced on that series by Greg Rucka and Eddy Barrows, both of whom worked with Johns on 52) - has tackled. Earlier this year, he wrote the seven-part Green Lantern: Secret Origins arc within the regular GL series and, at the time, he explained his thinking behind the term:

“Secret Origin” is a DC term. It’s a classic one that I think should be back and carefully and selectively done. If there’s a “Creeper: Secret Origin” next month, the title’s just been wasted. It’s more than the term though – Year One is great, but it’s only Year One. Just by the nature of the title, it doesn't encompass everything. [Green Lantern: Secret Origin] is from the time Hal [Jordan] is 10 years old until the time he really accepted his role as a Green Lantern. I think a “Secret Origin” can allow for a lot more ground to be covered.

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Talking to Newsarama, he explained what that "lot more ground" is, in terms of Superman:

We haven't seen a modern day retelling of Clark's first adventure as Superboy with the Legion of Super-Heroes, or the day Superman met Jimmy Olsen or the origins of Superman's long time enemies like the Parasite and Metallo. More importantly, Clark Kent himself will be explored in his earlier years in a way I don't think he's ever been explored before... [U]nlike previous Superman origin stories, this will be told almost entirely from Clark's eyes. We won't be spending an issue on Krypton. We'll be opening on one of Clark's earliest memories as a kid and moving forward from there. This is his story of self-discovery and the world's story of meeting Superman.

You may have noticed the mention of Superboy in there, which is interesting in light of the ongoing lawsuit over ownership of the character, although some think that DC's return to the use of the name is potentially sign of a good faith move on all sides that an agreement is close despite court dates finally having been set for the matter. Of course, all may not be as it seems, as Johns hints:

[Y]ou can see a pretty big part of Clark Kent's history is being reintroduced as well - namely, Superboy. But with a bit of a twist.

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All bets are off as to what that "twist" will mean, especially if the lawsuit doesn't go DC's way at the start of the year. Superman: Secret Origin will be released in early 2009.

Geoff Johns: Telling Superman's Secret Origin [Newsarama.com]