Superman : Earth One – A Review
By now you’ve probably read every single last report on Superman : Earth One that the media machine can spit at you. It’s been getting major press since before it’s launch last week from all over the place including CNN, USA Today, and other reputable news sources that I don’t pay attention to. The focus has mainly been on the depiction of Clark Kent as a young hipster with a hoodie. It’s such a dramatic change in direction, isn’t it?
The truth of the matter is that a lot of people are going to be torn on this book. Some are hating on it because of the liberties it takes with the mythos. Others for the fact that this Clark doesn’t seem much like the Clark we’ve come to know in the past seventy years of his publishing history. The thing is, it has no bearing on the regular title. It’s a standalone universe. The way I see it, the people complaining about it are the same people who lost their marbles over the changes that Bendis made when writing Ultimate Spider-Man way back when that first started up. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have any bearing on that. This is an expiriment in updating the origin of Superman for a modern audience using what the writer believes are modern sensibilities. I won’t comment on whether or not he has a grasp on what modern audiences want, because the nationwide sellouts of the book indicate that he has a fairly decent idea, regardless of the quality of the book he produced. I don’t think a wide majority of Superman fans picked up the book, as they’ve been fairly vocal about how horrible his run on the regular in-continuity title has been thus far. It seems to me that the majority of the people picking up this title are the uninitiated, who will have no qualms with the changes because they will only have the slightest inclination that anything has changed. Remember that for a chunk of the population, Smallville is the default incarnation of the Superman character. Smallville.
The book isn’t that bad. It really is just Ultimate Superman. The only problem being that in the format which it has been published, you’re not really getting a whole lot of story for the price. I feel like the book ran maybe four issues worth of content but they charged me for six. That having been said, I think a premium has been placed on the book for the high profile creative team. JMS has had his name in the news alot lately due to his work on Wonder Woman as well as the regular Superman title and Shane Davis is a damned fine penciller, so DC is probably just trying to get their money’s worth. The price certainly didn’t seem to affect the buying public as they snatched it up in droves. But it is worth noting that the story is a brisk one. Thankfully the book stands on its own in such a way that you don’t need to buy a second volume to complete the story. I would have felt a bit miffed if I’d paid the price I did and didn’t even get a full story out of it.
As for the story, it’s familiar to those who have read anything remotely related to Superman before ( it felt a little bit too much like Birthright in some places for me), it also diverges from the regular path a little bit simply by virtue of being set in modern times. Clark Kent pursuing an active career in print journalism seems a bit anachronistic and so they play with it a little bit and Clark’s entry into the field isn’t the same as it was in his previous incarnations. None of that really matters, the key players are there and the dynamic still works. Although the Jimmy/Clark dynamic might be interesting to watch this time around considering that Jimmy seems to be less the bumbling loser that he is often portrayed as.
I will give the team props for not utilizing the old guard of Superman villains for this go-around. If there’s one thing a lot of people agree on its that the old villains are getting stale. There are numerous petitions to keep Lex Luthor out of the next Superman movie because people are tired of the same old shtick. Here we get a villain who helps reinforced the thematic elements of Superman’s arrival. The fear of the foreign is on full display and I think that will be the underlying thematic element of this particular version of Superman. It’s certainly a timely and relevant metaphor. The only question is whether or not Stracynski can keep it subtle enough not to be overbearing.
On the whole, it’s an interesting effort. Not as fun as the early Ultimate universe was, but definitely a popular expiriment nonetheless.