Superman: Earth One Review (Graphic Novel)

Title: Superman: Earth One
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Shane Davis
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Barbara Ciadro
Letters: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4012-2468-4
MSRP: $19.99

You might have heard this before, but Superman: Earth One is a re-imagining of the entire Superman mythos, this time spearheaded by J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame).  We’re not greeted with a 30something Clark Kent who wants nothing more than to fight for truth, justice, and the American way in this book.  Instead, we’re introduced to a 20-year-old, hoodie-wearing, angry Cee Krizzle, who wants nothing more than to be a regular guy.  Ok, the “Cee Krizzle” part was a lie.

You can look at the cover and tell that this isn’t going to be the run-of-the-mill Superman story.  This Clark Kent isn’t interested in saving the world, and he has no problem using his powers to his advantage.  Additionally, his super-ness also extends to his intellect – he’s super-smart.  Like solve-equations-that-have-stumped-scientists-for-years-in-two-minutes-flat smart.  He leaves Smallville, goes to Metropolis, and is content with getting a job (or four), and sending the money back home to support the family like a good son.  Then, the aliens attack, and he has to make a choice: save the world, or remain in the background, and risk getting the Earth destroyed.

Let me say that this is a typical J. Michael Straczynski story in that it’s very well thought out, layered with characterization, and imaginative.  He gives us Clark, who just wants to be normal, and Ma and Pa Kent, who think that Clark should be using his powers to help others, but they’re just happy if he’s happy.  I think this adds a layer of humanity to this version of Clark Kent that we can all relate to – at one time or another, hasn’t everyone’s parents implied that they had potential that they weren’t living up to?  Who hasn’t just wanted to be a regular person, to blend into the crowd, to just live their life only to find out that life has a way on making you step up to the plate?  This book may not click with hardcore Superman purists, but its fresh new takes on the property that make this book such an enjoyable read.

Shane Davis’ art is simply spectacular, and the colors have a bit of a muted quality that really makes this book feel different from other DC books.  It’s not grey, brown, or murky…but the art has a realistic feel that really makes it easy for you to feel like this world could be right outside your window.  It’s packed with action and emotion, but at the end Superman: Earth One flips a little bit of the standard X-Men “protecting a world that hates and fears them” vibe out that made me smirk a little, but this was not enough to stop me from looking forward to the next episode, because the way JMS pulls it in made sense.

The Demitrius Determination:

Superman: Earth One is a solid bit of writing backed up by stunning art.  By the time I got to the end, I realized that this is one to keep my eye on.  It’s clearly DCs version of Marvel’s Ultimate line, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  If you’re an old-school Superman fan, this is a nice change of pace; if you’re new to Superman, this is a perfect place to start.  Go out and pick this book up, and keep an eye out for Batman: Earth One, because it’s scheduled to drop in the near future.

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