Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: Clark Kent, Daily Planet, J. Michael Straczynski, Jimmy Olsen, Kal-El, Kents, Lois Lane, Shane Davis, Tyrell
This originally came out back in 2010 but with the release of Volume 2 just last week…..I thought I’d go back and read this…..before reviewing that second volume (Coming soon)
It’s a re-telling of Superman’s origin and has been likened to Marvel’s Ultimate universe where it’s free from the shackles of current continuity. A modern Clark Kent arrives in Metropolis and writer J. Michael Straczynski portrays CK as multi-talented loner struggling between making his super-intelligence or sporting prowess count for something before his last consideration…..the Daily Planet. Unfortunately the decline of the iconic newspaper leaves Clark uninterested and still looking for a direction in his life.
Clark visits his father’s grave to talk things through with him and we see flashbacks to his arrival on earth and growing up with the Kent’s as he deals with his developing powers. The angst is something that is focused on throughout the book and at times it can make Clark a slightly annoying character but that’s really all part of building a different take on the Clark we know – giving him a much truer feeling of being an outsider…..and lets face it….at the end of the day he’s the solitary survivor of an alien race sent to Earth…..that’s as alone as you’re going to get.
A fire at his apartment sees him swooping into to save his belongings which include a shard from the ship that brought him to Earth. A ship that the US Military have hidden away in a secret base to let them continue their investigations into its origin and purpose. The shard triggers some memories in Clark but seems to act as a remote for the ship too as it recovers and erupts into life. The Kryptonian vessel sparks into life as Clark loses consciousness with the sudden wave of information that hits him. Luckily Clark snaps out of that just in time as a new threat appears towards Earth…..an alien invasion led by head villain Tyrell. We’re now into familiar territory where Clark’s quick outfit change sees Superman take Tyrell and his army of robots head-on….although Tyrell is a much more significant threat to our superhero than first thought.
He’s held in an attack from the invaders which leave him seeing his own blood for the first time and feeling real pain. He’s almost defeated as Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen play their part in releasing the hold on Superman. The extra help gives Superman the lift he needs and we’re caught up in a no-holds barred fight to the finish as Tyrell crumbles under Superman’s power. The graphic novel plays out with Clark Kent submitting an exclusive interview with the Earth’s newly appointed saviour to Perry and securing a new job with an invigorated Daily Planet. An interesting part on this is the mixed reaction the public gives to the new arrival…ranging from complete mistrust to total acceptance. Reminiscent of public opinion today on any number of subjects.
For me this is a real success and something I can return to again and again……strange for a character I’ve not related to all that much in his original incarnation. It’s perhaps the fact that this has been a direct release to graphic novel and there’s no monthly wait for the next part but I’ve enjoyed a number of Straczynski’s releases before. The angst can be wearing a bit at times but again that seems fitting in building Clark/Kal-El as a true outsider…..making him as separate from the other human characters as possible. The back-up cast of the Daily Planet regulars and the US Military backup are strongly written and given a similarly modern feel in an attempt to tweak the characters from their original appearances.
Tyrell is fairly typical villain with all the flaws we’d expect – overconfident in his power and falling just short of fulfilling his plans as our hero steps in. Quite one-dimensional in comparison to some of the other enemies we know Superman has had in the regular DC universe and really only built-up to play his part in getting Clark to his big break into the Daily Planet office. The writing is strong but it’s not exactly a wow factor for this volume but it’s backed up with strong approach to the art from Shane Davis.
Where it’s muted tones help capture the feel of the scenes well and the depictions of Superman’s weightlessness during flight seem to capture just the right angles and movement to make it believable. The action is kept tight and it flows well and even though we move from Metropolis to the Military base and back as the story progresses it still maintains a strong flow and sense of worth in the telling of the story.
A strong addition to the Superman lore and a smart escape from the continuity I’ve mentioned earlier……and these Earth One books come as a welcome change of pace, even getting me interested in characters that I might not have gravitated to before. We’ve even seen a Batman: Earth One book too (reviewed here) and again that was a welcome change of pace and interesting take on a well known character.
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