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Superman: Earth One Hardcover – November 2, 2010
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From Superman: Earth One
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Looking to Marvel’s Ultimate line, DC launches its Earth One series with a modernization of the world’s first superhero. With 72 years of various “imaginary stories” behind him, if you’re going to reimagine Superman again, you’d better distinguish yourself. It’s all quite recognizable: Lois, Jimmy, and the Daily Planet are all here, though the menace of Lex Luthor is replaced by an alien armada hunting the last son of Krypton. Torchbearer of the Todd McFarlane–Jim Lee aesthetic of modern comics art, Davis provides sleek figures, intense detail, and subtle integration of current hairstyles and fashions (including a nip and tuck to the old supersuit itself) that do the lion’s share of the contemporizing. Ultimately, though, it’s Straczynski who distinguishes the work, humanizing the dynamic between characters and adding a compelling twist of melancholy to young Clark Kent’s search for purpose. This is not a revelatory reexamination of a great American icon but the script and storyboards for a great Superman summer blockbuster, and one with a lot of heart, at that. Grades 9-12. --Jesse Karp
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Throughout the story we find out about his origin, and the choices he makes that lead him to become Superman. The more iconic moments and characters are slightly adjusted to fit a modern sensibility but are still true to the characters you have in your head. This being a reboot might scare some away from experiencing yet another origin story but again Stracynski does a terrific job of not letting anything become stale. In fact the basic origin of a lost planet creating our hero goes on to become a great mystery that reaches a conclusion in the 3rd volume.
At this point it is obvious how much I loved this story but one of the things I think gets lost is how influential it became as well. The success of this volume went on to assure DC to make more 'earth one' series; and i personally believe the producers used this book as their inspiration for the better scenes in 'Man of Steel'. The mass warning of doom, Clark going from job to job, and the personal loss he experiences. All of which are much better here than in the movie. So as I started off with before this is the BEST Superman story I have seen, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
I'm happy to say that writer J. Michael Straczynski--whom some of you might know as the creator of the science fiction series Babylon 5--has managed to leap that bar in a single bound. I found Superman Earth One by turns exciting, intriguing and touching. Straczynski offers a Superman origin story that not only gives the familiar origins of Kal-El, but also provides the origins of Superman by telling us WHY Clark Kent chose, out of all his possible futures, to become Superman in the first place.
If I have two criticisms of the Superman Earth One, they revolve around the artwork by Shane Davis. While I generally like his style, I don't care for the way he's drawn Clark's face--it's too oval and angular. Superman should have more of a square-jawed look. I also found in just a few places trouble following the action because Davis had a tendency to draw from either a too-distant or a too-close perspective. More scenes from a middle perspective would have made some of the action easier to follow. Other than the two small criticisms, however, I liked the artwork.
The action, the adventure, and the touching moments with both Jonathan and Martha, and with Jor-El and Lara, would have made Superman Earth One worth twice the price. The story contained, however, a special gift for long-time Superman fans: the return of the smart Superman. Long before anti-Superman Batman fanboys got ahold of Superman in the 1980s and wrote him as stupid to make Batman seem smarter (not that Batman ever needed it either), Superman used to be smart. Even if you've never read the Silver Age comics, if you've seen "Superman: The Movie," where Superman speaks multiple languages and gives a succinct, scientific explanation of what causes earthquakes, you know what I mean. Superman should be smart--after all, he's the son of Krypton's greatest scientist. As a fan of Superman for the last half-century, I thank Straczynski for the gift of Superman's returned intellect.
Straczynski managed to give us the rare gift too of a flashback within a flashback, deftly done. Not many writers could have pulled it off.
Straczynski gives us two more small parting gifts: the exclusive interview that Superman gave Clark Kent, and Lois Lane's first article on Superman. While Straczynski made the two small parting gifts small, he made them gems, and nice, polished diamonds at that.
Straczynski leaves us (or at least me) wanting to find out what Superman does next, and I'm happy to see that DC will release a sequel in time for my birthday this November--indeed I have it on my Amazon.com Wish List already. :-D