Superman: Earth One
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Shane Davis
Released Date: October 27, 2010
Superman: Earth One is an exciting, modern revamp of a character that most everyone reading this has been familiar with as long as memory serves us. In a lot of fans’ opinions, Superman doesn’t need changing, but in the eyes of the majority, he needed an upgrade, and Earth One is a brilliant example of how to take the character in a new, relevant direction.
As reported, this is an origin story of Superman taking place in a modern setting. An alien boy is found in a small country town in Kansas named Smallville. When he’s older, Clark Kent goes from Smallville to the big city of Metropolis with a gift. His parents encourage the young man to stand up for what is morally right, but he is uncertain of himself. Clark is searching for jobs and positions to help his widowed mother, and he stumbles upon a local newspaper named The Daily Planet. A villainous force comes to Metropolis to find Clark, and he finds the will to protect the Earth. This is your typical origin story for Superman. The main difference? Superman is not a boyscout, and I believe it’s for the better.
The modern updates to the Superman mythology are welcome and surprisingly believable, and as I suspected, the look of Clark Kent is in line with the style of his generation in major cities. Clark is not what I’d called moody, but more reflective and reluctant to become a hero as a result of being bullied in school, and his reluctance to fight back due to his special abilities causing injury to others, and standing out even more solidifying his role as an outcast, so writer J. Michael Straczynski is going more along the lines of Smallville than any other mythos. However, another refreshing item that we don’t normally see in Superman tales is that he truly is a “super man,” his abilities are not limited to his character, strength, and powers, but also focus on his intelligence. Unfortunately, that’s a key factor to Superman that we don’t see that often.
There are other updates as well, mainly in the city of Metropolis. Residents tend to be more negative and self centered, which is evidenced by one of Clark’s job prospects when he is only concerned with saving himself in the book’s crisis, when he had the ability to save numerous lives. Other than being completely out for themselves, the majority of the residents seem to be more reluctant to accept Superman as a modern hero, but plenty are still inspired by the appearance of The Man of Steel. Also, the economy is not treating The Daily Planet well, as the digital age is making the printed newspaper obsolete, but there is a spark in the team, and the exclusive story on Superman is the most believable instance in which the paper would continue to succeed.
Earth One celebrates loads of memorable and exciting moments, but one of the reasons that I truly love this book is based on a conversation Clark Kent had with his father Jonathan Kent. In this conversation, Clark is telling his father that he doesn’t even know who he is because he’s removed himself so much from society, so as to not expose himself, while trying to assimilate to the majority, and Jonathan explains to him that you won’t know who you are until you reach your breaking point and “see red.” This flashback is matched with Clark facing the destruction of the world, and he breaks through and knows he is meant to become the world’s protector. This scene provides the most standout moment of the book with both writing and art. It’s perfect. Seriously. I cheered a little bit in the restaurant where I was reading it.
The minor gripes that I have with the book are mostly art based. Shane Davis has a style that fits the Jim Lee school of comic book art, but lacks the depth and emotion of someone like Lee. Some panels fall a little flat, and his style is a tad inconsistent throughout the book. His women are cleaner and smoother, while his males are sketchy and falter quite a bit, but overall the art works along with the story. Like I said, minor complaints.
It’s not All Star Superman, but I would definitely suggest this book to someone who hasn’t been in love with Superman since birth, and would like to see the character with modern relevance.
Superman Earth One was released in comic book shops on October 27, and will be in stores everywhere on November 2.