Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Graphic Novel Review Series: Superman: Earth One v1!


     Recently I've gotten the itch to sit down and read some of the DC Earth One graphic novels that launched a couple of years ago to solid fanfare. They've been getting a lot of massive mainstream attention and positive reviews from trusted sources that I had to come across them at some point, and since I have such a deep love for the early "Ultimate" line of comics from Marvel I figured it would be a good idea to check these out. I decided I'd start with Superman: Earth One since it was the launching point for this DC initiative, and boy o' boy was I treated to something special. First off, for those who don't know what the Earth One line of graphic novels is, it's a starting point for classic characters within DC's roster. They created an alternate reality for these heroes and villains and set everything back to day one with a different take on each characters origin and background, so it basically shows the reader how each character became the hero or villain they've always been but with twists that wouldn't work within the core DC continuity. If you've ever read a comic or graphic novel from the Marvel "Ultimate" line than you'll be at home with Earth One. Much like Ultimate Marvel, Earth One erases decades of continuity and creates a landscape where new readers (and existing readers) can jump on board a character and see how he finds his place in the world. My love for Ultimate Spider-Man has brought me to enjoy stories such as this and there is something to be said about revamping classic characters for a modern era without doing a soft reboot that keeps their past continuity and keeps the character young and in the modern age within their own ongoing comic.
     So, I sat down and started on Superman: Earth One with expectations that things would be different, and they are to a point, but not much has changed here aside from the book taking place in the modern day. One fairly large twist is that we find out that Superman's home planet was destroyed in a "search and destroy" mission and that it wasn't just coming undone from the inside out. Also, we see that the Kent's urged Clark into becoming Superman, almost pushing him to a fault. It was a bit different than the classic origins we've been used to throughout the life of this iconic character but a lot of the same Superman tropes are present, such as Clark becoming a writer for the paper and working with Lane & Olson. Over the course of this graphic novel I didn't come across anything that didn't make the character feel like Superman and everything flowed nicely as I got to know the Earth One hero. I highly enjoyed the story presented here by J. Michael Straczynski, it was very polished and brought an edge to a character that many feel is soft, he truly made me care about Clark's situation and brought a level of depth to Superman that was highly needed. I simply couldn't wait to turn the page. The art by Shane Davis was fun and vibrant too with a slight muddy overtone that gave the visuals a gritty feel at times. I don't really know what I'd compare it to but I really liked it, I may have even preferred it to Gary Frank' work in Batman: Earth One (more on that in another post).
     The plot in the first volume of Superman: Earth One was simple and addictive. We see Clark's origin of how the Kent's found him, we see him grow up a bit and join the football team, we see him move away and join the paper, and we see him faced down by an enemy that we learn has been chasing him down since birth. Everything had meaning. We see that he easily could have slid through life as a scientist or an athlete (or anything else he wanted to be) but in typical Clark fashion he wanted to do it the hard way and work his way through as a normal human being without allowing his powers to prevail. Which I decided was something I'm glad they kept about Clark's character, though at first I was hoping that he'd allow himself some slack which I guess you could say he did seeing as how he got his job with the paper using Superman to his advantage. All in all I really enjoyed the story and the kick-off to the Earth One series of books, it's nice to be able to dive into these classic characters without decades of continuity to worry about. Don't get me wrong through, it's not like this is the essential origin tale of this character and the way fans both new and old should view him, it's just a nice take on Superman with some fun twists and turns along the way that made the ride an enjoyable one. The post-Crisis Man of Steel series by John Byrne is another essential piece of reading if you're looking to get into Superman or read a classic Superman story, but he's got a million and one different beginnings out there so you should do some research and see which one fits your tastes the best. I highly recommend fans of this character, or fans of comics in general, pick this up and add it to their book shelf. There is lots of good to be had here.

Story& Plot - 9/10
Art & Illustration - 8.5/10
Inks & Colors - 8.5/10
Cast & Characters - 8/10
Overall Score - 9/10

© B-Sly The Gamer Guy

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