Superman: Earth One Volume 1 + 2
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Shane Davis, Sandra Hope
Colours: Barbara Ciardo
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: October 2010 (Volume 1) + October 2012 (Volume 2)
I like the origin story of Superman. If I could say one thing on that note however, is that I am almost tired of Superman’s origin story. If it weren’t for the unique/alternate takes on his origin story I would be even more upset. I have only recently watched the Zack Snyder movie Man of Steel, which may have influenced my recent distaste for Superman’s origin story. While that movie’s take on Superman is quite interesting, it hits that same notes that all Superman origin stories hit. Before I begin to review Superman: Earth One Volume 1, I must mention that there are quite a lot of similarities between this book and Man of Steel. It is as if Man of Steel took story specifics from this book and implemented them into their movie. That being said, sequels for Superman will always be my favourite because they are stories that test the character rather than tell us about his origin.
Superman: Earth One Volume 1 is a really unique piece of Superman storytelling. It is primarily an origin story as well as Clark Kent’s very first adventure. The story is set in modern time and involves technology that exists today and implements that to set the time frame of the book. The story is about Clark Kent taking a train to Metropolis where he plans to rent an apartment and apply for all different sorts of jobs. While he struggles with finding the perfect balance of living as an average human and living with his alien powers as a god among men, it would seem that an alien invasion is underway. Tyrell, an alien from Krypton’s sister planet Dheron, comes to Earth with a fleet of ships for a full on invasion. Tyrell threatening Earth with invasion and decimation, brings Clark Kent into the light as Clark feels the need to save the world. The story goes from this point forward almost exactly how the Man of Steel movie plays out. Invasion happens, Superman find the way to stop the invasion, and the bad guy is defeated along with the invasion. The really cool redeeming part of this story is that Clark Kent ends up joining the Daily Planet newspaper as he feels he could blend in, and then he ends up coining the name Superman for his interview that Clark Kent wrote on Superman.
The art in this book is fantastic as everything looks very detailed. There is a smooth style to this art that really compliments details and that makes this book highly worthy of an artistic accolade. The writing is really well done as well as the premise and character work. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story with a more badass Jimmy Olsen… he gives zero fucks in this book. I really liked how he was searching for jobs and lived in a crappy apartment, it really brought the struggle of average every day life. The colours were really well done and some pages cleverly contrast other pages. I rate Superman: Earth One Volume 1 a very serious 6 out of 10 as I am bias, being tired of Superman origin stories. I would consider the art to be the redeeming factor of this book.
Superman: Earth One Volume 2 is a direct continuation from Volume 1. Clark Kent now works for the Daily Planet to help build up the papers reputation, and moves into a new apartment. Clark ends up dating his neighbor Lisa and makes friends with another neighbor named Eddie. While this is all happening, a criminal named Raymond Jensen breaks into S.T.A.R. Labs and gets exposed to “high energy neutrinos” that turn him into an energy absorbing monster called Parasite. Clark rushes to the island of Borada to help rescue people from a tsunami that is about to hit the island but the country’s dictator sees Superman as a threat and tells Superman that if he does not leave that the dictator will murder his own citizens. This challenges Superman in his fight for finding his place in this world. The question also arises that since Superman is an alien, having sex with his girlfriend Lisa may not work out which adds to this challenge.
The story plays out as Superman tests his strength towards Parasite and tries using the secrets of his Kryptonian ship to figure out how to fight this villain. Parasite attacks the Daily Planet twice in hopes of luring out Superman and successfully does. This scene again puts Jimmy Olsen in the position of a badass which I thoroughly enjoy. This scene also brings a very dark moment where during the last battle between Parasite and Superman, Parasite’s (Raymond Jensen) sister Theresa Jensen shows up where the fight is happening and when Raymond hugs his sister, he drains all her energy effectively killing her creating one of the most exciting and interesting moments in this book. The end scenes really bring things full circle in this book, as Clark Kent finds out his girlfriend Lisa is a whore and his neighbor Eddie died of heroin overdose and writes a very heartwarming article on Eddie in the Daily Planet. Superman goes back to Borada and instigates an uprising which leads the country’s dictatorship to be overthrown. Lex Luthor is thrown into the end pages as Lex ² with this Earth’s twist of Lex having a wife who is seemingly his counterpart.
The art in this book yet again holds up and exceeds in Volume 2. The story gets much more interesting as it is not a damn origin story, and rather pits Superman against an interesting villain all while throwing these young Clark Kent/young Superman challenges his way. The writing is excellent in this book, and almost everything ties up in the end. The colours were fantastic, my favourite piece easily being the redesign of Parasite and his purple colour. I would rate this book a 7 out of 10 as this book was still not quite enough to really grab me and keep me hooked. I lost interest in both Superman: Earth One books around the ends as there wasn’t enough pull or excitement to read further (aside from Lex ²). While this is a different Earth’s take on the Superman story, it really isn’t that much different enough to note and give credence. This book is perfect for people who cannot get enough of Superman and absolutely love the character to no end.
~ Tyler Head