The graphic novel Superman Earth One (vol. 1) was published in 2010 but I only recently discovered it. Oh, how I loved it! Therefore, I was even happier to discover that DC Comics had apparently decided to publish a second volume in 2012, which meant I could get another Earth One Superman fix!
Volume 1 – cover
Superman Earth One – Volume 2 does not disappoint! I guess in great part because its creative team is the same as in Volume 1: acclaimed writer J. Michael Straczynski has teamed up once again with well-known penciller Shane Davis; the inker, colorist and letterer from Volume 1 have stayed on as well. This creates high consistency between the two volumes, both in content and artwork, which adds to a great reader experience.
The story is built beautifully and carefully. We start with Clark, who is now a reporter at the Daily Planet thanks to his “interview” with Superman at the end of Volume 1. His co-worker Lois Lane doesn’t trust the new guy however. Suspecting he’s hiding something about himself, she decides to dive into his past to ferret out who he really is.
Also, we get to see Clark’s new appartment in one of Metropolis’s poorer neighbourhoods and meet his lovely neighbour Lisa Lasalle, with whom he strikes up a quick friendship that seems to hold some ‘more-than-friendship’ promise for the near future.
Entertaining banter: check!
Clark is still trying to get his bearings as Superman when he’s forced to face his first real threat: the creature Parasite, who can siphon his powers away, making them his own. In a way this forces Clark to become more human than he’s ever been, since now he suddenly has to share all the vulnerabilities humans have to face every day.
Meanwhile the army still considers Superman a security threat and is spending more and more time and resources to find a way to kill him…
For the second time Straczynski and his team have delivered a quality story. It reads like a movie, with interesting characters and conversations, exciting action and, most importantly, a reimagining of Clark Kent/Superman that speaks to the imagination and even managed to actually move me – which to me is quite a feat for a comic.
Touching? This is just the set up. The panels following it really tugged my heart strings…
Furthermore, there are definitely elements in the story that have the same feel as the 2013 movie Man of Steel – having now read both Volume 1 and 2, I have the distinct impression that the script writers for Man of Steel used significant elements from these Earth One graphic novels – which I have no evidence for at all, except that some plot elements seem to be taken almost literally from the graphic novels. Anyway, I like the idea, for I think the quality of the graphic novels is certainly high enough for a movie to be based on.
Although it is a self-contained story, Volume 2 leaves lots and lots of room for more sequels, with more adventures, more character development for the lead figures and, of course, more of Clark/Superman.
Straczynski’s rendering of the character, by the way, is actually one of the few instances in which I can’t say whom I prefer: Clark or Superman. Usually I’m interested in the one, but less so in the other (which of the two I like may vary with different writers), but Straczinsky’s characters are well-built, including both Clark Kent and Superman. So, what a treat! 😉
Add to that Davis’s outstanding artwork, with a very good grasp of facial expressions and emotion, and I’m well underway to becoming a true Superman fan after all!
Given that Volume 1 was an epic heroic adventure and given that this is only the second volume in what may hopefully become a very long-lasting series, I felt the villain of this story, the man-monster Parasite, somewhat lacking. True, he presented a very serious threat to Superman, but I was at best only mildly interested. The Parasite origin seemed, to me at least, a bit contrived and far-fetched (yes, even in something as far-fetched as a comic universe ;-), I still had a hard time suspending my disbelief with this particular plotline). Moreover, even though the Parasite’s past and his bond with his sister had great potential, there was hardly any complexity to him. Frankly, I found the character a more interesting villain before he became the Parasite, in the first pages of the comic, but of course we didn’t get to see much of that.
I give this comic a Quality score of 8/10 and a Relevance score of 7/10. Although this is a little bit lower than I’d score Volume 1, which I would rate 10/10 for Quality, Volume 2 is still a definite buy, thanks to Straczinsky’s great characters and plot, and Davis’s splendid artwork. This is why I’m really excited that Straczynski will continue publishing many more Superman Earth One graphic novels (as he told MTV Geek this April, yay! 🙂 ) and can’t wait to lay my hands on Volume 3!
Superman Earth One, Vol. 2 – cover by Shane Davis
Which Superman villain is your favorite? Tell me all about it (and also: what you think of this graphic novel) in the comment section below! 🙂