DC Comics announced nearly a year ago that they would be creating a series of stand alone graphic novels about the major heroes in the DCU, and appropriately enough they started it off with Superman Earth One.
Written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Shane Davis with colours by Sandra Hope, Superman Earth One is a modern retelling of the Superman Mythos.
For those of you wondering, Superman Earth One is in stock on All New Comics, although you should grab a copy quickly as it has sold out at the publisher and distributor level.
The first act of the book is about Clark Kent making his way in Metropolis, having just arrived via train (to give him some time to think). He goes through a variety of interviews where skeptical people are suddenly blown away by the athletic prowess or sheer genius of this totally average looking kid. By the end of the day he has several six figure offers to consider.
However he’s interested in working for a newspaper, so he goes to visit the Daily Planet. These are some of the best scenes in the entire book, with the Planet actually seeming real, with real problems, and dealing with the real issues that newspapers in our world are going through during this transition period.
Clark’s origin is told via flashback devices, and we soon get to unravel the mystery of Krypton when an invading force appears and begins attacking the planet Earth.
The big reveal of the bad guy is made, and his name is.
Wait for it.
You know you want it.
Just a little longer.
Seriously. Tyrell. OMFG. TYRELL?
It could have been Verklammmpt, or Narh-wahl, or J’imm, but no, we go with good old reliable Tyrell.
Okay, so now we’ve got fight fight, heroic beatdown, intervention by civilians, fight fight, red sun blah blah, cliché villain exposition followed by even MORE cliché “I hate it when the villain explains himself” commentary by Superman followed by the MOST cliché “what if I’m the good guy and YOU’RE the villain?” comment from bad guy.
Epilogue, Clark gets the job at the Daily Planet by presenting Perry White with the most artificial looking fake interview that I’ve ever read (seriously, the “interview” between Clark and Superman is pretty freaking bad).
Now this might sound like I hated this book, but I didn’t. The fight stuff was kind of crap, but I really liked the idea of the bad guy’s motivations. I like the idea that Krypton might have had a dark side (although I would have tweaked it so that Krypton was resource starved, and not her sister planet). I loved the characterization pieces, and I really liked the overall aesthetic of the book.
Davis’ art is good, his obvious influences being Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Alan Davis, Jim Lee, Bryan Hitch and Lee Bermejo (particularly in the way the latter two handle seams on costumes). It’s good…but not great. Characters are inconsistent, or just downright generic, and they’re heavily influenced by actors and athletes. Superman/Clark Kent is Tom Brady (the New England Patriots quarterback), Lois Lane is Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter’s little sister), and I saw flashes of Ed Harris as one of the generals. This isn’t a knock in itself, but it can be quite jarring and tends to make the artwork seem somewhat stiff. It’s a trend in comics these days, and not one I’m particularly fond of.
His battle scenes though are spectacular, reminiscent of a multi-million dollar special effects flick, with wide screen action all the way.
This definitely leaves you wanting more, and they have succeeded in creating an interesting story that could be followed up easily with about a dozen different plots. A great first effort.
I’m very much looking forward to the next installment in the series when we get “Batman Earth One” by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, where even Alfred has a new kick-ass visual style…who also resembles Sam Elliot, sigh, plus ce change.