Superman. Alter Ego: Clark Kent. Comic nerds know him as “the lost son of Krypton”, as one-third that makes up “The Big Three” (Wonder Woman and Batman being the other two), and is recognized by blue and red costume with the letter “S” on his chest and red cape. Whether you grew up reading comics, or watched Bruce Timm’s cartoons, the mystery of him as a superhero and as the bumbling DAILY PLANET reporter never fails to capture people’s attention.
As a new comic book reader, I was wary of reading Superman. In all honesty, I was never fascinated with his character. I had watched him in the Batman cartoons and animated movie cross-overs, but nothing really captured my attention except whenever Lois Lane showed up, since she was hard-headed, ambitious, and always seemed to get into trouble. When DC’s New “52” debuted, I tried to read the comics but I could find nothing relatable to Superman and his story. It frustrated me that I was repeatedly re-introduced to the character when he was already the Man of Steel. It wasn’t until I saw COMIC UNO’s YouTube review about this book that convinced me to pick it up. Let’s just say, I absolutely –loved- this origin story! Instead, of the iconic beefed-up, older version that we have identified as Superman for years, Straczynski captured the core values of Superman and translated them into a wonderful story of a young man trying to discover his purpose in life.
In the opening pages, we meet Clark Kent on a train to Metropolis. A previous conversation (in dialogue boxes) that Clark had with Martha, his Earth mother, basically states that even though he can fly (himself), he wanted the time to think about his life. Essentially, this debate is what Clark struggles with throughout the story on taking up the mantle of being the man who people would eventually refer to as “Superman”. He is reluctant to do it, and just wants to make his mother and (deceased) father proud of whatever he chooses to do.
Straczynski builds the story around Clark’s dilemma with a great supportive cast (the Kents, Perry White, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen just to name a few) even though some of the characters don’t directly interact with Clark. I loved that every character, not just Clark, had a voice that added more depth to the overall story. We see how Clark struggled with being an outsider as a child, his closeness with his parents, and how their advice shapes him into becoming Superman. It was also refreshing to see characters such as Perry White, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen struggling with their roles at the failing DAILY PLANET newspaper. Though they are supporting characters in the story, it is wonderful to see them grow to become better people (though it’s still questionable with Perry White at the end).
This is why CW’s “Smallville” was so popular for the ten years it aired, and what the comic industry ultimately struggles with. People want relatable characters, even though they seem “larger than life”. Of course, not everyone thinks it’s great to have Batman as a role model, but a character’s humanity is what brings him or her to life and makes them popular. This has been my struggle, and I am –so- glad that I picked up this book. The artwork by Shane Davis is great, though a few panels were odd, it didn’t really detract from the dialogue of the characters and story. My only real problem was with the villain, Tyrell, whom was the reason that Clark is forced to don the costume and become Superman. His dialogue was redundant, and while I understand that he was a tool to tell Clark, and us of Krypton’s fate, there could have been a better way. It felt a bit rushed in the story with Earth’s sudden invasion by this bounty hunter. Otherwise, it was a great story to read. I’m not sure if this would be a satisfying story for avid Superman fans since this is an origin story, not a wrap-up to a story arc. I’d highly recommend this for new readers that want to delve into the world of Superman, but were reluctant with investing in the comics previously published. I rate this 4/5 stars, because it’s so entertaining. This story, and the characters in it, will satisfy your curiosity of Superman’s world, and make you crave for more. Guaranteed.
Love me some Straczynski and the art is great in this book. I think the strongest part about a book like this (and the Batman Earth One book, for that matter) is that it is accessible and interesting to new readerships without alienating the current fans. Enough new and enough old that everyone can enjoy the story, so to speak. Can't wait for your review of Volume 2!
Despite being wary of origin stories, this book really surprised me. After Smallville I got tired of seeing another interpretation of Supes origin story, but Earth One struck a chord with me. Besides the art work being stellar, the plot was relatable. I'm eagar to see where Vol 2 takes Clark!
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