Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI
Art by SHANE DAVIS & SANDRA HOPE
Cover by SHANE DAVIS
Forget everything you know about The Man of Steel and brace yourself for a staggering new take on the world’s most popular Super Hero.
Best-selling, Hugo Award-winning writer J. Michael Straczynski (BRAVE AND THE BOLD, Thor, Babylon 5) and red-hot rising star artist Shane Davis (GREEN LANTERN, SUPERMAN/BATMAN) team up for this exciting launch of the EARTH ONE graphic novel series. Set in an all-new continuity re-imagining DC’s top heroes, EARTH ONE is a new wave of original, stand-alone graphic novels produced by the top writers and artists in the industry. The groundbreaking new line rockets into effect right here with the Super Hero who started it all – Superman!
What would happen if the origin of The Man of Tomorrow were introduced today for the very first time? Return to Smallville and experience the journey of Earth’s favorite adopted son as he grows from boy to Superman like you’ve never seen before!
Even before Superman: Earth One was released it was slammed across the internet for being “Twilight-y” by people who believe in judging a book by its cover in the most literal sense (and even then, it didn’t make much sense). I could write a whole article on that alone, but I’m sure you just want to see what I thought of the highly-anticipated book itself. Follow the cut to find out!
The Earth One line — in case you missed the news when it was first announced — is more or less “Ultimate DC,” an attempt at bringing in more readers by giving DC’s classic characters a revamp and placing them in an easily-accessible setting free from decades of continuity. Not only that, but each Earth One book will be an original graphic novel, rather than being published on an issue-by-issue basis. Superman: Earth One is the first of these OGNs, and it does a great job at serving as a solid introduction to superhero comics for a new reader.
But what about longtime readers? Superman’s origin has been told again and again; in fact, Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank finished hardly two months ago, and before that we had the (admittedly excellent) Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Lenil Francis Yu that ended in 2004. As much as I love JMS, this was just published too soon, if you ask me.
That being said, there were definitely many positive things to be said about the OGN. The number one term I think of when I think JMS is characterization, and we definitely see some great instances of that in Superman: Earth One. Young Clark Kent has a whole world’s worth of responsibility on his shoulders; why wouldn’t he feel a bit overwhelmed? Still, he’s hardly the angst-filled figure some have claimed him to be. JMS really shines with the secondary characters, though, developing a great voice for Perry White and making Jimmy Olsen significantly less silly, without losing the character’s charm. The only character I wasn’t sold on was Lois Lane, who seemed to be lacking a bit of substance. There’s always next volume for that, I suppose.
The story itself was decent enough. It’s pretty much your average making-of-a-hero sort of thing, with little variation. I am glad that JMS decided against using a standard member of Superman’s rogues gallery for the villain, but the new character wasn’t exactly anything… new. However, the dramatic tension was handled well throughout the story, so it still made for an entertaining read.
If you asked me for my absolute favorite part of the comic, though, I wouldn’t hesitate in answering: the art. Shane Davis gave us his best pencil work yet with this book, delivering a crisp and clean style that makes some of the best artists in the industry pale in comparison. Sandra Hope also deserves a lot of credit as well, because thinner pencilling is often that much more difficult to ink. But the true unsung hero of this book is colorist Barbara Ciardo, who was sadly uncredited in the solicits for the hardcover. I had seen Ciardo’s work before on various covers, but I never took note; sure, the coloring was impressive, but that was just cover work, right? Wrong. Ciardo’s work inside the pages is just as good on the covers, perhaps even better. The colors in this hardcover give an amazing vibrancy to the comic giving it, if you’ll excuse the cliche, a real feeling of life. Honestly, Ciardo transforms Davis and Hope’s line-work from something incredibly impressive to something truly beautiful (no wonder the three have done so many covers together).Continued below
So should one read Superman: Earth One? I would say so. Despite it being nothing ground-breaking, it’s an entertaining read that is quite pleasing to the eye. I especially recommend it more to new readers, as it is (in my opinion) even more accessible than All-Star Superman. Do I recommend buying it, though? That’s your call. If you’re sick and tired of hearing Superman’s origin over and over again, I can hardly blame you. But if you’re a comics fan who doesn’t have any form of that timeless story where an alien boy becomes Earth’s greatest hero, then why not make this one your first? If you want to wait for the cheaper paperback, though, I understand.
Final Verdict: 6.6 – Browse and make your own decision.