Friday, November 9, 2012

Graphic Novels - Superman: Earth One Vol. 1

Well, in the midst of writing a 3000+ word paper, one must take a break. For some reason, I decided to write even more words to pass the time. Yeah, it’s crazy, I know. For the final post in Superman Month(s), I have decided to look at the somewhat controversial (?) graphic novel Superman: Earth One. I bought this book at a Borders’ store for 10 bucks, so you can tell that I really wanted this book. I thought about talking about it last year but decided to hold it off till now. Also, the second volume has FINALLY came out, so it's a good time to talk about this.

The Earth One line is kinda DC’s second attempt at rivaling Marvel’s Ultimate line. It takes the most popular heroes and updates their origins. Top talent, and I mean “Top!” is on these books. For the Batman book, it was Geoff Johns (aka the God of DC) and Gary Frank. For Superman, it is J. Michael Straczynscki (aka JMS) and Shane Davis. JMS is known for many things. From Babylon 5 and Thor to the walking Superman and the devil-dealing Spider-Man (not his decision by the way), JMS has done a lot of good and bad. I’ve seen Shane Davis on a few books and he’s pretty good. So with all of that in mind, let’s get to it.

Superman: Earth One
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Shane Davis

We start the GN by seeing Clark arrive in Metropolis. He thinks about a conversation he had with Ma Kent as he finds a hotel. Afterwards, he leaves and goes out for a night on the town…solo! Unfortunately, it’s the sulky, lonely solo (…I know that feeling…). He almost gets mugged by some idiot, but with the help of heat vision, he doesn’t get mugged. In the next week, we then see him literally do all kinds of things like trying out for Baseball and football, figuring out complex scientific problems, and contracting. He’s actually doing all this so he can help Ma since Pa has already died of a heart attack.

As I once said before..."If you got it, flaunt it brotha!"

He then decides to head to the Daily Planet and look for employment. He talks to Perry and briefly meets Lois Lane and risk-taker Jimmy Olsen. Perry tells Clark that while he can write, it feels like that he’s obviously hiding something. Clark then leaves to think about his prospects and about his life. We then get his origin. We see his parents find him while on a hike in the mountains. They take care of him and eventually tell him of his true background. They also give him a piece of his ship. In the present, Clark flies back to Smallville where he has a conversation with Pa’s gravestone (well, he does!). He knows that Pa and Ma want him to use his abilities to help people, but he’s not sure about being on call 24/7 and about not fitting in.

We then cut to a military complex where Sandra Lee and scientists are view Clark’s space ship. It was confiscated after the crash. They notice that it’s beginning to essentially heal itself. Clark heads back to Metropolis and notices that his hotel room is on fire. It turns out that the piece of the ship is reacting to something. Clark gets it out of the complex and flies off. The piece does something to Clark and he is knocked out cold. While he is knocked out, he has memories of Krypton. Suddenly, an alien invasion force shows up…well, that was quick!

The military immediately reacts to the invasion and stuff blows up. Lois and Jimmy head out to get some pieces of the action. Clark wakes up and sees the damage. We then get a look at the invader: Tyrell aka Lobo Reject aka Lost KISS Member. He tells the people of Earth that he is there for a Kryptonian and he will keep destroying everything till he finds it.. When Clark hears this, this he jumps into action..sort of. First, he tries to get “Tony Stark wannabe” to look at some tech he grabbed off of one of the robots. That doesn’t work, but if Jeff Globlum and Will Smith were here…magic would happen. When he sees Lois and Jimmy in trouble, he saves them and finally puts on the suit that Ma made for him.

Saying that he is ripped is an understatement.

Superman jumps into action and kicks some mighty butt. Tyrell sees this and goes out to meet the Man of Steel. They fight for a bit and it is found out that Tyrell’s people destroyed Krypton. Apparently, they were at war. One day, some benefactor gives the Lobo people the means to destroy Krypton. Afterwards, they noticed that a ship left the planet as it blew up, so they tracked the ship to Earth. Clark realizes that Tyrell is going to do the same to Earth. Tyrell uses some gravity beam to keep Superman grounded. Luckily, bada$$ Jimmy and Lois help him out.


Tyrell and Supes enter round 2 of their fight. This time, Supes hurts him bad. Clark tries to destroy the invading ship but he is not strong enough. Suddenly, his “manger”, his ship, breaks out of the complex and goes to him. Clark then uses his ship to destroy the main alien ship. Tyrell is killed in the process. In OffScreens-ville, Superman stops the invasion and gets rid of the alien tech. After the invasion, the military sets out to find Superman.

After blowing off the Tony Stark wannabe, Clark begins to get used to life in Metropolis. He gets an apartment and creates “Clark Kent: Mild-mannered Reporter.” He also does that “awesome journalism” by getting a “one-on-one” interview with Superman. He goes to the Daily Planet where the stuff has already hit the fan. Jimmy got up-close shots of the action and Lois has the experience of it all to write about. Then Clark shows up and no one notices something kinda big…I’ll get to that later. Perry hires Clark on the spot, and Clark begins to get to know Lois and Jimmy.

Well, we all can agree that the article was at least the truth...

The story ends with the Daily Planet on top again, the public knowing about Superman, Lois and Jimmy looking out for Superman, and Clark learning more about Krypton’s destruction.

Well, that’s over! So, what did I think of this GN? Well...
I liked it. It wasn’t the best story ever in the world, but it still was pretty decent. First, the artwork is pretty good. As I said before, Shane Davis is a pretty decent artist and it shows with everything in this book. I like the updated suit. It has that old-school feel to it but it still feels modern. I will admit that the way he draws Supes’ upper torso feels off at times. Other than that, it’s all good. The coloring is also pretty good too. It has this darker look which makes the book feel a bit more realistic. The whole book feels like a 90 minute movie which is good and bad at the same time.

All of the Daily Planet scenes are good. All of the conversations between everyone there were good. We also got an updated, cooler version of Jimmy Olsen. He’s probably one of the book’s highlights to me. Lois is still Lois and Perry is still Perry. It’s all good there. I also liked seeing Clark in a different predicament. Here, he’s not sure if he wants to be the hero even though his parents have literally pushed him in that direction. I loved seeing him doing different things at the beginning. I mean, if you had the power, what would you do with it? We see this here and it’s done well. Also, I’m wondering what idiot compared this to Twilight because I really don’t see it.

We also get an interesting concept in Krypton being destroyed by a warring species. We kind of saw this happen with the Post-Infinite Crisis Krypton, but here it’s an interesting mystery. I do wonder who supplied the Lobo People (I don’t know what they’re called) with those weapons. I also like that we get a variety in how the public views Superman. We have some who hate him, some who fear him, and some who are thankful for him being here.

Now it’s time for the bad. First, the villain was pretty “bleh.” He looked over the top and he wasn’t that interesting. Also, the book kind of felt short in terms of story. The invasion takes up half of the book and it was not that interesting. There are 128 pages in this book. That’s like six regular sized issues. This story could easily fit in three of those issues. I know we’re in the age of decompression and all of that, but more story was definitely needed.

Then there’s the scene at the end. When Clark came earlier to the DP, he was dressed in normal clothes and NOT wearing glasses. At the end, Clark shows back up at the Daily Planet in his disguise. Jimmy has pics of him in uniform and both he and Lois saw Superman up close. They really don’t notice that they just saved this guy! I know with Superman in general there is the suspension of disbelief, but this is a big plot hole. Rational reasons for this hole could be explained by that they literally met Clark for a couple of minutes. Still, that’s a big leap.

I thought it was also pretty weird that the Kents were so “Gung Ho!!!” in pushing Clark to be a superhero. I guess it’s with the way that Clark was presented here. In other origin stories, Clark wants to help people and his parents help him in that. Here, it’s all them doing the work and Clark is just like “…..wait. You want me to do what and wear what?” Luckily, the good outweighs the bad here.


Finally, here are the highlights of this book. There aren't many, but there are some noteworthy things:

-Jimmy Olsen – Jimmy Olsen gets overhauled in this universe. Instead of the younger, “Gee, Mr. Kent!” guy, we get a risk-taking photographer who has been in the field for a while. He’s like the male version of Lois Lane, but he’s not swooning for Superman.
The Earth One Jimmy Olsen is awesome!!! Seriously!

-Superman vs. Tyrell – While the villain is lackluster, the battle between him and Superman is pretty cool.
And the award for "Dumbest Hair-do" goes to the winged Albino!

-Conversations between Clark and Pa – During the whole story, we get flashbacks of the farm where Clark is talking with Pa. They’re pretty good scenes.

-All of the Daily Planet Scenes – As I said before, the scenes in the DP are well done. They’re funny and pretty cool.
Hmm...Can you feel the love tonight?


So in saying all of that…the GN is okay. There’s great action in it, the characters are at least decent, and it does the job in making me want to read Volume 2…which should not have taken TWO $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ YEARS to come out. Yeah, I harpin' on that weird, stupid decision.

Well, it sucks I have to end Superman Month(s) on a bit of a downer, but it was all still good. So what's next? That's a question I don't know. I'll probably take a break from anything related to comic books for a while and try to get back to what this blog should be about: random thoughts. Well, I leave you with this:

"Guns! Now why doesn't someone pull a .45 and bang, settle it?"
-Bruce Lee...yeah, he actually said that in a movie.

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