Comic Book Review: SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE (2010)
I’m pretty damn sure that everyone and their grandma’s cat know about and are aware of Superman’s origins. I mean how can you not… a character that is essentially the symbol for ‘comic books’ or ‘superheroes’ for the non geek crowd worldwide. With multiples movies, TV series—both animated and live action—and more recently the horde of writers who have had their own unique takes on the beginning and even end of Superman, a story of his origins isn’t really… original.
Having said that, there are still pretty unique concepts presented in SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE that give the character some depth, nothing never-before-seen, but handled better than before. SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE is a universe outside of normal DC Universe continuity that attempt to give it’s trademark characters such as Superman, contemporary beginnings and reinvent him for today’s youth. It seems to me like DC’s version of the Ultimate Universe from MARVEL (but cooler, and not… stupid.) It’s a risky concept, again, given the multitude of previous ‘takes’ that people have given Superman; two things that gives this book some sort of credibility is writer extraordinaire (Wonder Woman fiasco not withstanding) J. Michael Straczynski and the artist Shane Davis whose work leaves one in awe with it’s crisp lines and awesomely realistic feel.
There have been comparisons between EARTH ONE and SMALLVILLE, given they both deal with a Super origins. My reaction: “How?!” That’s like comparing DAWSON’S CREEK to—ok no, ‘The Creek’ is one of a kind… no comparison comes to mind. Oh Van Der Beek… *sighs. But I digress. EARTH ONE centers on Clark’s entry into Metropolis in pursuit of some sort of purpose in life, not with his powers but despite them. He comes wanting to be normal with no intentions of acting upon higher ideologies or any sort of a messiah complex. One thing that JMS focuses on, is not the side of Clark Kent that possesses powers and how he deals with them, but rather how a youth deals with social acceptance knowing how different he is. That’s a struggle that’s very rarely been portrayed in Superman stories. Eventually circumstances force Clark’s hand into donning the suit mommy Kent made out of blankets they found him in as an infant, and… well, save the day. (Really, what do you expect to happen at the end of a Superman story?)
Some new elements are introduced in SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, one of which was Clark Kent’s superior intellect rather than his superior strength. The focus usually is Clark’s powers— the eye beams that give Cyclops pupil envy and so on—however little is often shown about the fact that Clark Kent is impressively intelligent. I liked that despite Clark’s upbringing as a small town farm boy with home grown ideals and warm apple pie ethics, he would still not aspire to act on any of his parent’s ideologies. It’s not until he’s influenced by the courage and morality of others he meets in Metropolis, namely Super BFF Jimmy Olsen, that he goes from a man to a superman.
Another new element in EARTH ONE is a huge change to the origins of Superman’s home planet of Krypton. There’s new villains introduced that have a direct connection to Supe’s origins that are out to get him. I’m trying to keep this article sans Spoilers, so pick up a copy to find out what I mean. And yes, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE is worth a read due to its originality in the portrayal of Clark Kent, more so than Superman. Despite it’s name, the book is an in depth analysis and fresh take on the reasoning of why Clark becomes Superman… the act of which is in a way bittersweet and marred in sadness, leaving the door open for more intricate reflections on the Man behind the Cape in the future. (Hoping the Earth One series continues…)