Review: Superman – Earth One

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Indie Sandwich July 2nd

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Superman has been the subject of many a debate between myself and fellow superhero fans. For some reason many see him as a hero without weakness beyond the obvious kryptonite. I know this to be false (hello?! red sun, magic, telepathy) and thought I knew almost everything about the Man of Steel. That was of course until read Superman: Earth One, written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by Shane Davis.

Earth One brings Superman into a modern setting and follows a young Clark Kent on his first steps away from Smallville and into Metropolis. The book explores the struggles every person leaving the nest faces; ‘What the heck do I do know?’ ‘Who do I want to be?’ ‘Why am I doing this?’

One of the coolest things I got from the book was a feeling that Clark is much more human than I’d ever considered. He has seemingly forever been depicted as the boy scout with clear a understanding of right and wrong as well as the god-like powers to enforce them; truly a Superman. Earth One spends much more time with Clark, a regular looking young adult simply trying to do the best by his parents and those around him. He is just unsure what that ‘best’ is.

What makes this even more interesting is the exploration of Clark’s Kryptonian heritage which allows him to, pretty much literally, do and excel at anything he can think of. Weirdly this fact still feeds into making Clark seem more human as, at the end of the day, he, like most of us, still wants to be happy. Realising this gives Clark Kent a quality that I had never really thought about reading or watching anything Superman previously; it’s not the physical strength of his powers which make him Superman, it’s the strength of his character. Think about it. If you were given the chance to become a both a superstar and a millionaire in any field you chose, how many of you would take it?  This sentiment is only strengthened by Straczynski and Davis through its reflection in the matured Jimmy Olsen, and contrast in the greed of a scientific researcher.

Davis’ art is nothing short of epic. Couple this with the fact that the novel is a completely stand alone novel * and the whole experience feels not dissimilar to watching a movie. Single issues can rely too much on the cliff hanger factor which, more often than not, ends up just being a ploy to force you to buy the next issue. Earth One doesn’t have this problem at all with its form allowing for the story to progress more naturally and with greater characterisation. Davis’ staging and great sense of timing works well to compliment the changing pace and really showcases the Man of Steel in all his glory. Just as superb is Barbra Ciardo’s colouring which sees through moments of intensity, anguish and nostalgia.

Superman: Earth One sits proudly on my bookshelf as one of the best comics I’ve read. It is a book which showcases how good comic books can be in every way imaginable; from relating to its readers, instilling a sense of childlike wonder and conveying the same excitement often only capable in a motion picture. It is a must read for avid readers yet will serve as a great introduction for first timers to both the art form and the man known as ‘Superman’.

* They have however announced a volume 2 stated for release in November this year!

 

Images:

Cover original source http://bit.ly/MfsWfT

Image 1 original source http://bit.ly/LanjBO

Image 2 original source http://bit.ly/McC7w5

Image 3 original source http://bit.ly/Nh8JE6

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