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a must read for Superman fans
on November 16, 2010
Superman: Earth One presents Superman the way you've always known him--and yet radically different. His story is entirely familiar: Rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton while still an infant, he lands on earth, to be found and raised by the kindly Jonathan and Martha Kent, who instill in their adopted son the best values and sensibilities the world has to offer. But Earth One (part of a larger series from DC focusing on iconic characters in more "real-world-like" settings) has a gravitas and a sense of place that anchors it more solidly in the world we know than practically any Superman comic in ages. Even better, it's a "mature" comic that kids, teens, and adults can all read and enjoy.
Writer J. Michael Straczynski is a comics veteran, so it's no surprise that he crafts a story that draws you in immediately, even as it covers the most familiar aspects of Superman's life. Straczynski is also a regular TV and movie scribe, so he naturally imbues his story with a cinematic pace and scope. It works amazingly well. Even a long-winded voiceover from the late Jonathan Kent, a plot device that could have gone horribly wrong, or at least been unforgivably cheesy, succeeds and inspires the reader just as it inspires Clark Kent to live up to his full potential.
Artist Shane Davis does a remarkable job not only with Metropolis but also with the legendary core cast. His Clark Kent and his Superman are young and vibrant (both recognizable but still different enough that you almost believe a pair of glasses and a nerd act are enough of a disguise for the most famous man in the world), and his Lois Lane is beautiful and lifelike. Jimmy Olsen and Perry White shine under Davis's pencils as well.
One thing the story does not have is Lex Luthor, and thankfully so. The Superman-Luthor rivalry is tired, in comics, movies, and TV. Seeing Superman come to grips with his Kryptonian nature and his humanity at the same time while trying to save the world from a shockingly horrifying alien invasion is a joy. Involvement from the overexposed Luthor would only have mired the story, and Straczynski wisely avoids it.
If you're looking for a reason to enjoy Superman again, to understand why you liked the hero in the first place, Superman: Earth One is the place to start.
-- John Hogan