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4.1 out of 5 stars
Superman: Earth One
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2011
Okay, seriously . . . read "Birthright" and then read this. You might groan a little. Serious spoilers ahead for both.

1. Both are origin stories for a modern audience. "Birthright" focuses on a good-hearted, cheerful, optimistic, albeit lonely and a bit lost, young man in his mid-20's making the decision to be a guardian for mankind. "Earth One" focuses on a slouching, depressed, confused, lonely and lost young man in his early 20's that stumbles into becoming a guardian for mankind.
2. Both involve some kind of alien invasion that Superman has to deflect, and people walk away wondering, "hey, is he on our side or not?"
3. Both introduce Clark and Lois to each other in almost identical ways. "Clark, meet Lois Lane." "Hi, I--" "Yeah, hi--Perry! Blah blah blah I'm Lois and I have spunk . . ."
4. Both have the primary villain reveal the fate of Krypton to Superman.
5. Both have scenes where Martha and Clark discuss the logistics of having a secret identity, complete with "your secret identity has to be your mask . . ."

. . . and on and on and on. The differences between the two works lie in the fact that "Birthright" makes Superman feel real; even plausible. His motivations make sense, his character and sincerity show in his personality, and all the other parts of the Superman mythos falls into place just where they need to be. "Earth One," on the other hand, is filled with awkward dialogue and exposition, has a Clark Kent that doesn't come across as someone who'd decide to live with a secret identity to protect mankind, and all of the key traits he ends up having are because his mom and dad told him too and not necessarily because he felt that way. Not to mention the addition of a sub-plot of an alternate alien race that Kal-El is now responsible for seeking vengeance against, by the end none of it really feels like SUPERMAN. Maybe that was ultimately the point--I don't know--but it really doesn't work that well. Also there was one part where a guy was casually drinking a cup of coffee while aliens were killing people around him; that was weird.

If I had never read "Birthright," I'd probably have liked this story a lot more, as it's not really AWFUL. But as it is, they are Wyatt Earp/Tombstone, Capote/Infamous, The Illusionist/The Prestige . . . and "Birthright" is such the clear winner that I can't honestly say I liked "Earth One" that much. Except for the art. The art was great.
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on April 29, 2011
More like a movie pitch for a new Superman movie deliberately intended to appeal to a teen demographic, Superman Earth One has lots going for it as others have pointed out; there's no Lex Luthor, who is the most overexposed, most overused, most incredibly over relied upon character in the Superman mythos; there isn't an automatic presumption to heroism; the visual take on the Man of Steel is decidely sleek and at least different, and the story itself is generally entertaining. As others have pointed out, there are also loads of shortcomings as well; Shane Davis' art while adequate, is problematic for it's occasionally weak storytelling; the villain ("Tyrell," I mean, seriously?) is the most embarrassingly named villain ever devised, and there's far less inventiveness present in this "reinterpretation" than you might expect coming in, based on what was promised. In fact, there's hardly any "reinvention" at all. Just the odd tweak or two that seems as arbitrary as anything else. But this is definitely worth reading and owning if you love this character and are curious about Stracynski's take. (BTW, as an aside only, much of my affection for JMS evaporated when, within six months of taking on the regular writing job of Superman comics proper, he suddenly changes his mind and decides he wants to concentrate more on longer form graphic novels than monthly comics. After that amount of build-up, that amount of promise, and expectation from fans, and in the context of starting off one of the most controversial stories about Superman in years, you simply abandon the character and the problematic story you help set up? Bad form old man!)

Anyway, my main reason for writing the review however is to comment on the physical volume itself, since much has been said about its content but not so much about the approach to the presentation by Dumb Company, or DC Comics. The folks at DC are a special group. Infinitely creative, they're not the brightest bunch of people in the world. Whatever you think about this story, Superman Earth One is one of the most touted DC experiments in a long while and there was huge expectation for this work. One would have imagined that DC would have taken some effort to put this into a slightly oversized, Deluxe HC type of book, to showcase the work, highlight the artwork, and communicate its distinctiveness in some manner, instead of merely using the normal sized comic pages sandwiched between hardcovers. But then, as I've said, they're not the brightest bulbs in the basement. Hopefully, at some point, this story will be treated with a slightly larger format to draw more attention to it and give readers some more breathing room to enjoy Davis' admittedly flawed storytelling but otherwise quite solid art. Whatever the situation though, if you love Superman, you have to own this.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
Superman is a tough guy to write. Too powerful, too virtuous, too perfect, and you lose your audience because they find no reason to care or relate to him. Too edgy, moody, and dark and you get--- this. This isn't the worst Superman story ever, but it's not the best. I really liked some of the slight alterations to the character and his history, but others I felt detracted from who he should be. The biggest problem I had with the character here is I rarely, if ever, felt convinced that this was somebody who felt overcome by a deep-seeded need to do good in the world. He dons the 'S' not because he has a persistent feeling that he should help others, but because he's pushed to a point where he realizes he's the only one able. It's the difference between Superman and Spider-Man, and it's very subtle... But it's real. In fact, it's not really even his idea to become Superman, but his parents. They make it clear that it has to be 'his choice,' but the entire impetus comes from without him-not from within.

With a few exceptions this is a story we've seen before. There are some neat tweaks to the mythos, and some additions to the story of Krypton's last days I enjoyed but that left questions unanswered, and me unsatisfied. The villain, named Tyrell (not joking) is rather one dimensional, and the whole story is far shorter than I think it should be. I was expecting a nice, fat graphic novel compared to the rather sleek story. What came here is a one-shot quick rehash with a sudden alien invasion (a la Birthright), instead of the grand epic that it could have been, fully realizing Superman in a new, fresh way that wasn't dark and angsty, which he was. I love the update to Jimmy Olsen, but the other characters, particularly Lois, were underdeveloped (again, possibly due to it's short length).

When it comes to Superman origins, I far prefer the Birthright comic series. It modernized the character, giving him an edge without losing the ideals, a deep backstory, and most importantly a drive and a self-realization of what he could do for the world rather than the world forcing him to show what he can do. It's not the worst read, but it had so much potential.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2010
It seemed like, by the mixed reviews, that Superman: Earth One would be a significantly different take on the origin & early days of Superman. But it's really not. I've read a lot of Superman comics, and this one makes some relatively minor alterations - the costume is a bit different, and the exact cause of destruction of Krypton is different (which varies even in the original universe's continuity). I feel like, otherwise, Clark/Superman is essentially the same character. This version takes bits from each Superman origin, comic book-based and not, and the result is just a slightly different origin.

That aside, the story is fine. I feel like Birthright was a more suspenseful, drawing story, but this one works too.

If this is the first Superman comic you read, and you enjoy it, don't think that this is some wholly different, more modern telling and for that reason it'll be the only one you'll like. The idea of Clark as an actual person and the question of how the public views Superman is something that comes up time and time again in both the comics and other media.
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on October 14, 2012
This is a focus on Super Boy right after he leaves to "find himself" at Metropolis. He has a lot of options with his knowledge and isn't really interested in being any type of superhero. However, cataclysmic circumstances force him to become one and that really isn't much of a surprise so not a spoiler, people.

The story had its moment but it was a bit too predictable for my tastes and didn't have any interesting small moments. The artwork was absolutely beautiful and primarily done by Shane Davis. The story was by famous writer Michael J. Straczinski and I had higher expectations and he didn't meet them.

ACTION SCENES: B to B plus; STORY/PLOTTING: B minus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: B minus to B; ARTWORK PRESENTATION: B to B plus; OVERALL GRADE: B; WHEN READ: mid October 2012.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
Everyone knows that Superman is a tough character to write for. There's terribly little that can be a real threat to him. This retelling was decent. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't TDKR either. It added some humanistic qualities by emphasizing the "outsider" side of Superman's story. Ultimately, it didn't go over too well for me, but it did make me want to learn more about Superman. Find that one quality which could/does make him as popular as Batman.

Just read the book, even if you don't buy it. It's good enough to read at least once.
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on October 27, 2010
I'm a big Superman fan and have heard a lot of hype about this book. So I got it, read it, and enjoyed it. I like the attempt that he makes to reinvent the character. Some of the stuff was cool. Not all of it though. I still think the best take on Superman in the past decade or so is Grant Morrison's All Star Superman. JMS's book, to me, felt a little wanting on more original content. He pushed some boundries and not others. He succeeds in some areas, but there are as many flaws and/or standard issue things that he clings to. Overall a worthy read, but not something groundbreaking.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2010
Superman is a character that has been reinterpreted many times throughout the character's life. Sometimes these have been subtle changes as the years have passed and other times the character has been completely reinvented in either an alternate reality storyline or within the main continuity of the DC Universe. The last person to successfully reinvent Superman in the main continuity was John Byrne after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, while a host of other stories such as Superman: Red Son and Superman: Last Son of Earth have been written as one-offs under the Elseworlds banner and most recently All Star Superman has been a great success at retelling Superman without completely reinventing him. There have been other smaller reinventions of the character along the way that haven't really taken much hold in the main continuity including Superman: Birthright and Superman: Secret Origin each retconning particular aspects of the character's origin.

Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski is part of an ongoing alternate universe within DC designed in the same vein as the Ultimate universe that Marvel has created. These stories will use well known characters, but be unburdened by previous continuity.

The story as told is not much of a change from the standard Superman legend. Kal-El is sent to earth in a space vessel from Krypton where he gains super powers under the yellow sun of earth. He is found by the Kents as a baby when the ship crashes and when he is in his late teens early twenties his father Jonathan Kent dies (this diverges slightly from the original silver age storyline where both his parents die and the Byrne continuity where both live and is more akin to the original movie story). In this storyline the main plot change is that Clark Kent is reluctant to put on the costume of Superman and become a public hero. He seeks employment in sports and corporate research due to the money he can make figuring that this is how he can make the most difference in the world, by gaining monetary wealth. He dismisses the life of a reporter when there is no money in it. He also seeks a more normal human life as his upbringing made him feel alone due to having to hide his abilities. The idea of using his powers as a public hero is something he dreads as he feels he will always be outside of humanity and alone if he does that.

Obviously something happens and he ends up becoming Superman, it's not much of a spoiler to put that out there, but the way it all comes together is somewhat obvious and not particularly interesting. It doesn't seem that JMS has much room to work with the character in this, possibly due to the influence of DC. While Supreme Power had JMS invent his own Superman as a government raised pawn that is used as a secret weapon who ends up rebelling and destroying his masters the most you can say about the Clark Kent from Superman: Earth One is that he is a bit selfish and naive and that he gets over it.

If you are looking for some sort of revelatory new Superman story, this really isn't it. The art is good, the hardcover version is nicely bound and printed and the story is passable, but as a reinvention of the character it's lacking in creativity. Certainly there is room for improvement as the series continues and JMS is a fine writer, but this isn't a particularly great start.
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on January 2, 2013
Un punto de vista novedoso del origen de Superman, aunque ya se ha hecho varias veces y esta en particular no agrega nada superlativo. Esperaba un poco más.
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on December 6, 2012
As a long-time Superman fan, I enjoyed a new storyline. The art work was impressive. Unfortunately, I thought it was just too short to justify the cost. For $10, I expected a novel-length product.
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