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Grumpy Old Fan | Earth One welcomes new Superman fans

Superman: Earth One

Throughout the character’s history, Superman has been introduced and reintroduced to various audiences through various media. There have been Supermen on radio and film, on television and in prose, and of course in comics. The new Megamind apparently leans heavily on a Superman pastiche, and the newest “proper” Superman movie is being guided by producer Christopher Nolan.

And yet, the goal of Superman Earth One — written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Shane Davis, and inked by Sandra Hope — seems different from many of the Man of Steel’s other origins. Earth One has Krypton, the Kents, Lois, “Jim” Olsen, the Daily Planet, and of course the familiar red-and-blue costume; but it is most concerned with redefining Clark Kent and his mighty alter-ego. Aside from the “Earth One” brand itself (about which more later), there are very few Easter eggs for longtime fans. This is not a distillation of seventy-plus years’ worth of Superman stories into some platonic ideal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, it’s almost as if Straczynski and Davis are making a concerted effort to avoid such references.

Regardless, Superman Earth One (there is no colon in the title) clearly seeks to redefine and reintroduce the original superhero to a new audience. As a reintroduction, and more specifically as the first of what is presumably an ongoing series of graphic novels, it’s not a bad beginning — but it doesn’t quite feel like Superman yet.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, of course.

* * *

Superman Earth One postulates a Clark Kent whose options are wide open: anything from star athlete to gifted scientist, with costumed hero far down the leaderboard. Still, it is not really in doubt that Clark will don the red and blue, and sure enough, a hostile extraterrestrial armada spurs Superman to action. That’s the barest outline of the plot, although Straczynski wraps a number of story elements around the villains’ arrival. First, the Kents kept a chunk of Kryptonian spacecraft from the crash site, so Clark brings it to his would-be scientist-employer, hoping that by analyzing it they can find a way to stop the armada. No dice: the scientist is more interested in finding a panic room and riding out the attack. Second, Clark learns (via microscopic vision) that the chunk-o-rocket contains a recording of Jor-El and Lara’s last moments, with a larger Kryptonian library available through the craft itself. Third, and most significantly, Clark sees fearless photographer Jim Olsen stand up to a killer robot, proclaiming that “the truth … [is] the only thing worth dying for.” Flashbacks reveal the origins of the super-suit and dual identity, and voilá! — halfway through the book, this looks like the inaugural job for “Superman.”

Actually, it takes some timely help from Lois, Jim, and Kal-El’s spacecraft to defeat Tyrell, the talky assassin with the oddly-terrestrial name. (Fun fact: I once worked with a Tyrell who pronounced his name like it rhymed with Jor-El.) After that comes the wrapping-up (meek Clark shops for suits, puts on glasses, interviews self) and the setup for future volumes (who’s behind Tyrell? Is there still more to Krypton’s destruction? What about the suspicious Major Lee?). Topping the book off is the Daily Planet’s first Superman coverage, some of Davis’ sketches, and a full-page ad for one of Straczynski’s Brave and the Bold collections.*

Anyway. At this point Superman Earth One poses two big questions: is it a worthwhile story, and is it a worthwhile Superman story? I didn’t dislike this book, but I have reservations about it on both counts.

Is it a worthwhile story? I suppose. None of the major character beats are terribly surprising, but they’re not really meant to be. Straczynski wants the reader to see that Clark actively chooses the proverbial “road less traveled,” but the plot is more of a collision-course-with-destiny thing. Since Clark can’t really avoid confronting Tyrell and his engines of destruction, the only drama may be whether he does it as Superman; and again, that’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.

That said, the big Superman/Tyrell fight comes off fairly well. Tyrell is a credible (albeit nondescript) bad guy with a Kryptonian-specific deathtrap, and Superman defeats him both with Kryptonian hardware and with good ol’ Earthling-style punching — plus the aforementioned help from Lois and Jim. Giant hovering mega-drills poised over Earth’s major cities make the stakes appropriately high, and Tyrell’s history with Krypton likewise make them personal.

Still, I can’t help thinking that this was not a particularly nuanced story, which brings me back to Clark’s central choice. The Christopher Reeve movies presented Krypton as generally cold and logical to a fault, except naturally for Jor-El and Lara. Since then many versions of the origin, including “Smallville” and scads of comics, have Clark choose the lessons of Earth over the ethics of Krypton. For example, although Marlon Brando’s Jor-El has given Krypton a kind face, the climax of the first movie finds Superman rejecting Jor-El’s edict (“it is forbidden to interfere with human history”) in favor of Jonathan Kent’s broader guidance (“you are here for a reason”). Not only is that choice more genuine (because Reeve’s Superman was more in touch with his Kryptonian side), it also forces Superman to go harder and faster than he’d ever thought possible.

That brings me to the second question:  is Superman Earth One a good Superman story? Here it’s not so clear. Although the character had become a square, paternalistic establishment figure decades before, the Reeve movies did a lot to crystallize his basic … well, goodness; not just for the general public, but for comics fans and pros alike. However, for a while now that’s apparently also made Superman boring, if not inaccessible or even inexplicable. Straczynski showing Clark trying out for a football team, or pulling a Good Will Hunting at the local laboratory, is one way to respond to those critics. Clark becomes Superman because he realizes it’s the right thing to do … and also because the plot’s basically pushed him into it. Straczynski may want the reader to realize that Clark’s commitment to “Superman” is the book’s real message, but that gets muffled in all the wrap-up and setup.

I mentioned earlier that the book contains very few Easter eggs and/or references to other Superman stories, and that includes familiar Superman villains. Using Luthor or Brainiac would certainly have made this more recognizable as a Superman story, and it might have made Clark’s choice seem more organic. However, this Superman is a stripped-down model, with only the most perfunctory supporting cast, which suggests that Straczynski wants him to not be defined (in whole or part) by one or both arch-enemies.

This Superman is also not terribly interested in Lois Lane, at least not romantically. Although Earth One establishes Lois’ rivalry with Clark and (to a lesser extent) her attraction to Superman, she and Perry exist primarily to give the Daily Planet some iconoclastic flavor. Not having Clark/Superman triangulate off of Lois and Luthor distinguishes Earth One from more conventional Superman origins, and truthfully, the story doesn’t really miss them. However, their absence and/or relative lack of participation also makes Earth One feel more like a generic superhero story.

Of course, Earth One features its own distinct departures, including the military/government subplot, Clark’s career options, and the details of Krypton’s destruction. The book’s twenty-year-old hero is probably younger even than “Smallville’s” Clark, and as drawn by Davis and Hope, he’s more Michelangelo’s David (or Alan Davis’ Superboy) than Wayne Boring’s beefsteak. That itself casts Earth One in a whole different light, because this Superman may well have to grow into his inspirational role.

And that “room to grow,” for lack of a better phrase, informs my hesitancy about Earth One. So much of the book is calculated to make Superman cool that it risks abandoning the fundamental Reeve-esque “goodness” (uncoolness?) which has come to define the character. This book has Clark wrestle with some self-centered impulses, and I imagine future installments will similarly address other apparently-incongruous elements.

My last big complaint about Superman Earth One is the title. Regular superhero-comics readers understand that “Earth One” is a brand, like “Elseworlds” before it,** but this book isn’t just for us regular readers. You could read the “One” as meaning the first book in the Superman Earth series, but you’d probably be confused later by the Batman Earth One book, and you might even wonder where JLA: Earth 2 fits in.

In any event, Superman Earth One is a handsome package. I appreciated the embossing on its squarebound cover, and Davis and Hope combine well with Barbara Ciardo’s colors.  (Other visual effects, like painted clouds and weathered newspaper boxes, especially give the Metropolis of Earth One an expansive, lived-in look.) Ms. Hope’s inks are often found over Jim Lee or Ed Benes’ pencils, so Earth One’s figures and faces occasionally have the same sort of scratchy feel. For his part, Davis does a good job balancing frequent flashbacks with action sequences, and the book moves along well. Again, his Superman is slender and callow, and sometimes looks too lost in thought, but he’s heroic when he needs to be.

* * *

Ultimately, the success of Superman Earth One may depend on the goodwill this hypothetical new audience already has for the Man of Steel. Straczynski dedicates the book to anyone who’s felt a “thrill of excitement” upon seeing the S-symbol, because they “understand what that symbol means — that all things are possible.” On a more practical level, though, Straczynski has written this book for people who may need a little more convincing. I can see a new-to-Superman reader coming away from Superman Earth One wanting to read more, but still not quite getting why Superman has been so popular for so long. In that respect I’d say Superman Earth One is a success — just not the revelation that other Superman revamps have been.

++++++++++++++++

* [I mention the ad because JMS’ B&B may be as close to new-reader-friendly as his DC work gets (until his Superman and Wonder Woman arcs are collected, that is), but an advance look at Batman Earth One, or the next volume in the Superman series (Superman Earth One Book Two?) would have been nice.]

** [If you believe, as I do, that the Earth of “Earth One” was created from the events of the weekly Trinity series, then these stories are actually part of the larger DC Multiverse — not that they would ever cross over, that is….]

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40 Comments

You hit the nail on the head on many points. I’m still not sure this book is going to convince readers of “why Superman” so much as “why superheroes”.

I’ve more or less let it go, but I also found the self-reflexive events that lead to Superman’s first appearance a bit of a cheat. That comes from having first seen Superman save Lois from her doomed helicopter in Superman: The Movie, the ill-fated spaceplane of Byrne’s comics, and more recently the helicopter of Waid’s Birthright, etc…

There’s something unsatisfying about superhero stories that are insular in their villain and heroes’ motives. It seems to strip away the “hero” aspect and makes it seem more like an issue of revenge, self-preservation, what have you…

That said, it was a lovely book to look at, I appreciated what JMS seemed to be doing giving Clark a life semi-examined, and I genuinely really liked the lack of breaks inherent in the OGN format. I just thought the whole thing could have been far more sprawling and satisfactory had DC not limited the book to 120 pages.

Personally I think Tom DeHaven’s “It’s Superman” would make for a better Earth One than this if updated to current times.

‘The Other’, ‘Sins Past’, the Unmasking (that wasn’t there), ‘One More Day’.

I don’t think I need to say anymore.

It was ok but nothing special. It wasn’t all that different from other established Superman origins. Because of that I wonder why it was really needed. Nothing in it was different enough that it couldn’t have been in the normal series. The addition of Tyrell’s world was interesting and will probably be integrated into regular continuity in a few years. Presumably it is Brainiac behind the whole thing.

I have to comment. The reviewer made a mistake. This part is wrong:

First, the Kents kept a chunk of Kryptonian spacecraft from the crash site, so Clark brings it to his would-be scientist-employer, hoping that by analyzing it they can find a way to stop the armada. No dice: the scientist is more interested in finding a panic room and riding out the attack.

Clark doesn’t bring a piece of his ship to the scientist, as he says in the comic he strips a piece off of one of the robots he’s fighting, hoping the scientists can find something to use against them.

The whole point of the comic was to introduce a new audience to the character not constantly focus on people who already like Superman. If you want that you got Secret Origin earlier this year that whole comic is one big homage to the past and has virtually nothing new or fresh about it. At least this comic tries to reintroduce him in the present. Not as good as Birthright imho but a nice effort and the originality along with it’s return to his golden age roots is much appreciate and gives everyone a fresh look at a character that has become somewhat stale.

Shane Davis always seemed like a poor pick for this. Gary Frank is on Batman, why can’t they have someone of his caliber on Superman? Makes no sense. Davis hasn’t done enough, doesn’t have the chops and is simply a mediocre artist at this point in his career. He’s just wrong for this book. Dan DiDio must like him or something because he does not seem at all to fit the caliber of talent on these books. He’s barely done anything.

JMS’s run on Brave and The Bold is some of the best single issue comics in years. Jesus Saiz would’ve been perfect for this.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

November 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

@Doug

The Unmasking and One More Day weren’t JMS’s fault. Also, The Other and Sins Past weren’t done the way JMS wanted them.

Also, what about the Book of Lost Souls, The Twelve, Silver Surfer: Requiem, Midnight Nation, Rising Stars, Bullet Points, Supreme Power and Thor? Those are some mighty fine comics.

I’m not going to comment on the content of the book. If this is supposed to ‘welcome new Superman fans’, why isn’t more of an effort being made to promote it outside of the current comic book reading fan base? I think a solid idea would be to run a commercial during “Smallville”. Could reach a different audience who might already be interested in Superman but do not read the comics. I really think they are missing a good opportunity.

to bring in new readers using a pricey gn is a poor idea, especially when the content barely scrapes the worth of one of their five dollar giant sizers.

Steve — actually, the “new look” Superman has received a lot of mainstream media attention: there was an Associated Press article, USA Today article, segment on the CBS News, etc. If anything, DC hasn’t correctly anticipated the demand. The first printing sold out before the book’s release, and DC is scrambling to get a second printing to traditional retailers. It’s currently the #74 bestselling book on Amazon, and it’s not even in stock until Tuesday.

Really? This is supposed to be fresh and new? To bring new readers? The plot was awfully similar to Birthright, the art was decent at best (Davis? Really?) but mostly mediocre.

In fact I didn’t see anything “new” or “fresh” in this story. We have been seeing/reading about angst-y Clark in Smallville for the last ten years now.

JMS might be a hell of a good writer, but he seems to be going nowhere with his whole Superman ideas (Both in Superman monthly and Earth One one-shot)

Not good, but not bad either. Just a very forgettable ogn.

$20 is pricey? It’s $12 at Amazon.com.

For a new hardcover book of any kind $12 is cheap.

Cee Lo *F*** YOU" GREEN

November 6, 2010 at 8:58 am

The charm of De Haven’s “It’s Superman” is the time period it’s set in.

When I heard JMS was going to be writing Superman, both in the ongoing monthly, and the Earth One series, I was initially thrilled because, despite how quickly his take on Spiderman went off the rails, his Thor tales were exceptional, and so are his Brave and Bold one-and-dones overall. However, my excitement quickly paled. Superman’s “walkabout” in the monthly title has quickly become a yawnfest, while the Earth One GN was also a nonstarter for me. A few OK moments but mostly stuff that left me thinking, “How can an obvious talent like JMS, who has proclaimed his love for Superman for years, fall so short of the mark when it comes to writing about him? No matter what the intent of the Earth One book is, creating Clark as a self-doubting emo post-adolescent is most definitely NOT the way to go! Thankfully, I didn’t buy the book because a friend let me borrow his copy. Money well saved while my time could have been much better spent.

@DrunkJack Are you kidding? Jesus Saiz is in no way a higher caliber artist then Shane Davis in career or art. It’s one thing to say that you like Saiz’s art, style, rendering, storytelling, or whatever attracts you to art or artists you like, but Shane Davis is very talented and far from mediocre. There is a huge difference on preference and fact. I am excited to see Shane Davis getting such good projects, and I think he’s going to prove to be a great artist for years to come.

Just read it last night. I was excited to pick it up.

It was dumb. I have no problem shedding canon and reinventing Superman, but the story was just bad. It was boring, and I had to force myself to finish it. I had to close it and come back to it a couple of times. A real chore to read.

It’s just bad/lazy science fiction. You can’t write on electrons! An “electron microscope” doesn’t visualize electrons, it uses electrons to visualize things at a picometer (x10 to the -12 meters) level. Size of an electron? less than on the order of X10 to the -15 meters. Despite saying the glyphs were written on electrons, the graphic showed them as being written on atoms, using the old ball and stick models, which are only symbolic representations, not what the molecules would actually look like. Those “balls”are meant to represent electron “clouds”. If this is meant to introduce kids to Superman, they’re apparently not aiming at the bright kids. High school (even middle school) stuff! So, let’s forgive that. The artists I knew in high school weren’t paying attention during Chemistry, they were doodling in the margins of their notebook…. as they should be. ;)

I liked the warring planets from one solar system idea, and the battles every twenty years. But, what about the sudden ability for interstellar travel? I thought the two civilizations were only capable of short distance space travel? Ok, so whatever outside power gave Tyrell’s people the drill thingies gave them tech for interstellar travel, too. But what about Jor-el’s ship? Apparently Clark’s rocket launched twenty years ago, he got here pretty fast, and with very little time debt, as Tyrell says he’s been looking for Clark for twenty years.

Then the whole “planetary invasion” thing. Just a personal thing, but I think that’s a bit played out. The sudden appearance of an armada of ships over every major city that disappear just as suddenly once the the “mother ship”, conveniently parked over Metropolis, is taken out? Oh, and the media blitz in the five minutes (or was it five days?) that Clark was knocked out? yawn…. Woah! time warp! yawn….

Then the identity of the person the aliens are looking for? I suppose Clark just knew it HAD to be him? From the information downloaded into his “cerebral cortex” (good to know our brain anatomy is universal) from that ship fragment? ok… I suppose…. But why would the government immediately assume HE was the alien that came to earth in the ship that crash landed twenty years ago based on his AGE? Because, it’s obvious that whatever came to earth twenty years ago would have been zero years old at the time? That explains the crash landing. Damn infant pilots!

Ok, so there were other things I didn’t like about the story, but I’ve forgotten them since I began this diatribe. Once last thing though… Clark is still working in PRINT MEDIA??? That’s like, on TOP of my list of things to update if I’m offering a changed, modern mythos for Supes! I actually got excited when he threw that application in the garbage. I thought they were going to totally take him in a new direction! Make another choice than to act as Metropolis’ personal guardian. Really shake things up! How about… advance human kind’s ability for space travel!? Explore other systems. You’ve got that cool ship, after all! Contact other intelligent life. Pre-empt the next alien attack! Off-world stories could be really cool with a Superman that is differentially empowered by different types of stars. OR… hang out in the skies over Metropolis and write for a newspaper as your day job. I mean, Lois IS pretty cute, what with that new MOLE on her left cheek and all. And the new Jimmy is pretty cool, he might be able to hook you up with some sweet tail if Lois is the same ice queen in this universe… COME ON!! This wasn’t thinking outside the box! This was following the same old formula while artfully dodging used story lines.

Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the art. But, knew that before I picked it up, hoping JMS could make up for it in narrative. He did not. So, in the absence of a good story, there was not even good art to fall back on. The pencils look like they were drawn during an earthquake, or on a bus, or something. AND the ink looks streaky and there’s too much of it. Not a fan of the changes to the suit, either. The seams in the costume along the torso are alright, but the ones on the thighs make him look like he’s wet his pants, with the dark blue on the inside and the light blue on the outside. And what’s with the Nerf boots and belt? Krypto’s going to chew through those.

AAA-A-A-a-a-hhhhh…… That felt good. I feel a little better about dropping twenty bucks for this book now. It provided me fodder for a nice online rant. Anyhow, peace out!

Um, would anyone actually recommend this over “All-Star” to a non-comics fan???

I’ll give Straczynski credit where it’s due though, the Superman (Hyperion) thread of “Supreme Power” before all that post-MAX meddling was fantastic! If only they let him get an organic ending…

@ben

Is Shane Davis a friend of yours or something? He is nowhere near as good as Gary Frank (Doing Batman Earth One) or Saiz, nothing Saiz draws has the stiffness Davis exudes in every panel. Davis may eventually be a decent artist, once he gives up tracing faces and learns to draw hands better than Rob Liefeld.

“Those hands on the book’s cover are positively Liefeldian.” – http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=29077

Swipe File on Davis’ photo tracing of Jennifer Carpenter for S:EO Lois
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/10/28/swipe-file-lois-lane-and-dexters-little-sister/

“Um, would anyone actually recommend this over “All-Star” to a non-comics fan???”

I wouldn’t recommend All Star Superman to anyone who isn’t interested in self indulgent meta fiction. As a straight story it’s choppy, like half the story is missing. The work as a whole is not engaging to anyone who isn’t well versed in Superman’s silver age history.

“. The work as a whole is not engaging to anyone who isn’t well versed in Superman’s silver age history.”

That’s not true. I started reading Superman in the 90s, and had never read a single Silver Age comic prior to All Star, and it is my favorite Superman story up to date.

I love “All-Star Superman”, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone new to the genre, medium, or character. I don’t think it can be fully appreciated without some familiarity with the history and tropes that’s it’s playing with.

Which brings me to my main topic:

Have any reviews/reaction come in from people who are part of this book’s intended audience? Even the best fan reviewers’ attempts at objectivity can’t help but be colored by years of comic book reading, particularly the many times the Superman origin story has been retold and reimagined. And I know that I fall into that category, too.

How the new, casual reader reacts to this is the real measure of the success or failure of this project, not the feelings of people who can’t separate it from the hundreds of previous stories they’ve read, how it measures up to MoS/Birthright/Secret Origin, etc. and how that colors their perception of what the character “should” be.

If this is put in the hands of someone who has never read a comic, much less a Superman comic, how does it play? That should be the real yardstick here, and that’s what I’m hoping to eventually see some feedback on.

And by “this book”, I mean Earth One, not All-Star. Should have been clearer, given the All-Star discussion preceding.

I’ve entirely mixed feelings about the book, I like the story, think the new stuff is interesting, do not at all get the hatred for the portrayal of Clark (not emo, at all, what emo kid would try out for a sports team? You simply do not know what emo is if you think an emo kid would play sports, apparently emo to a lot of people is ‘anyone under the age of 25 who wears a hoodie) and I love the comments of the one guy about Clark working for ‘print media’.

I tend to think a lot of people haven’t grasped Clark’s reason for writing and for working in a ‘dead’ medium. He’s not doing it to work in what’s fresh and new, writing is a solitary, introspective line of work, even as a journalist all the work is internal, taking in facts and retelling them is entirely mental. Clark can do ANYTHING HE WANTS physically, even scientifically he’s gifted, but being a writer has less to do with intelligence than with the willingness to spend time working things through in your mind and onto paper or a screen. He may be able to type fast, or work out his sentences faster than most, but he’s still working these things out in his head, not with his super powers.

In a world of bloggers and twitter where every idiot’s every thought is posted somewhere, working in print is antithetical, it’s exactly what someone wanting time to be introspective would do. With Clark’s mind it’s not like he will spend hours doing these things, but I assume to him even a half hour not flying around saving the world is a vacation. This goes for almost all incarnations of Clark Kent, it works at the core of the character in every version. He writes because it’s the one human thing he can feel like he does that’s not a gift of Kryptonian powers. It’s Clark Kent orphan raised on a farm with the powers of a God asserting his humanity.

I don’t like the idea of Clark working in TV or in some instant gratification form, he’s not doing it for that, he’s either got to be a journalist or a novelist, someone whose work takes more time than a blogger or a TV reporter would. It’s about the mentality of it, it’s Clark saying “This is the one thing I can take time for myself to do.”

The title itself gave me pause from the beginning. Earth One? I still don’t get it. I mean I understand the old Silver-Age mulitiverse idea. But this whole line of books for the outside audience is just kind of lost.
And Shane Davis’ art really hasn’t done anything for me.
Maybe another installment might pull it together, but with so many versions of the character available.
Is this series just going to cause confusion? And end up being a mistake?
Wait and see.

DrunkJack, I don’t know if your point is well made or not. It kind of sounds like something you made up in your own head. Which is all right. We all rationalize things in our own ways. Based upon everything I’ve ever read about Clark working at the Planet, though, it has more to do with being at a place where he is constantly being updated on what’s going on out on the streets of Metropolis, like a cop station, but he’s not a cop. Although, I always thought that sort of explanation was kind of weak sauce for what Superman has become. He’s not a street level hero anymore. Golden Age Supes was, but this Earth One iteration is NOT Golden Age Superman. This is a the mega-powerful, defy physical laws Superman we know from more modern iterations. The Gold Age Superman had powers similar to Hugo Danner from Philip Wylie’s Gladiator, a book I have had the pleasure of reading, and thoroughly enjoyed, and was a much more gruff, less polite fellow. A reintroduction of THAT Superman to modern audiences would be something I could really get into! =)

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of a Clark Kent motivated to seek out a day job that is cerebral, introspective, distinguished from what he does as Superman. You’re comment about being a novelist was good. That would have been a cool thing to try out. However, I don’t think that Investigative Reporter really fits that bill for what you’re detailing. There IS action involved with that job. They have to go to where the news is. Then they record it and repeat it objectively. That’s not the most cerebral, introspective thing I can think of.

Indirectly, however, your rationale might bear out. The article at the end of the book is, after all, an interview with himself,. If he makes his career writing about himself, then you may have a point. Read with that in mind, though, considering the questions he chooses to ask himself, and the answers he gives, the article at the end of the book can provide support for some of this “Emo” characterization that’s going around. While your point about him not being Emo is well made (this isn’t Conor Oberst we’re talking about here), he is certainly “emo”tionally overwrought, angst-ridden, and self-absorbed. I did rather enjoy the article itself, the day after I finished the rest of the book. Of course, it could just have easily been written by the normal continuity Clark Kent (although…. “To bad they didn’t send along blankets of gray twill, maybe a nice charcoal.”…? and then: “He laughs in the fashion of someone who doesn’t seem to do it a great deal.”?… COME ON!!! That’s EMO, dude!)

@DrunkJack
I’m not trying to address taste here, I am talking ability. I am not a fan of most of DCU’s choices for art and writing, and among those I feel Gary Frank and Shane Davis are among the top of it. I am not saying Shane Davis is my favorite artist, or even that I’d ever buy a book based on Shane Davis’s contribution. I am not talking about my opinion, and your links kinda leave me annoyed. I don’t see what you think is swiping. He referenced a person to base his Lois off of? How is that unusual? The panel and the photo’s were not the same image and not traced, but I would say it’s obviously based off of her. It’s called reference. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to try to create a face. And since you keep bringing Gary Frank into it, in your estimation of swiping, then Gary Frank would be a way worse offender of it with his faces.

I really like the place Gary Frank has taken his art to, but only in the last few years. I could argue why it’s reached that place, and could list the artist’s and actors he’s taken his inspiration from to change his style (swiping as you called it) but I don’t think that’s bad and I understand how artist think and learn. I guess all artists swipe anatomy and buildings too.

Shane Davis is a young artist, and I think he is a deserving up and comer. Jesus Saiz is as well, and I can see why you like his art. They are both good at what they do and good at different things. I can see why you would prefer him over Shane just as I could see the opposite, but I don’t think he’s a bigger artist than Shane which is what the point of your original post seemed to be about.

I don’t know why your reply came to insults, I wasn’t calling you stupid but apparently you hate Shane Davis. Good for you man, have fun with it. You still bought Superman Earth One which sold out it’s first printing in a few weeks, and solidified his “superstar status”.(Wizard Magazine’s words not mine)

“I love “All-Star Superman”, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone new to the genre, medium, or character. I don’t think it can be fully appreciated without some familiarity with the history and tropes that’s it’s playing with.”

Really, I was pretty fuzzy on all this lore and didn’t even know little things like who The Parasite was but I was more than happy to go for the ride with the more goofy/sci-fi elements. Plus, all those one and done chapters after the initial set-up were great introductions for stuff like Kandor, Krypto, Bizarro for those unfamiliar… And who’s not going to “get” the Lois With Powers chapter. The book oozes love, “Earth One” almost seemed unsure of how to achieve its goals…

I just feel that if Warner Bros thought that “Superman Returns” was accessible to the average movie-goer we could do a hell of a lot more confusing than “All Star” with comics.

That said, I think I agree with Buddy in that “this whole line of books for the outside audience is just kind of lost.”

DrunkJack, Dan Didio said this Earth One Clark is emo in his comments to one of the major newspapers that ran an article on it the day the GN came out. That said, your definition of the term is more accurate than what I was implying. Other than that, I still think JMS is way off the mark on all of his Superman writing thus far and wouldn’t recommend the GN to anyone, whether they are familiar with the Superman canon or not.

superman earth one is very retarded then again what can you expect from jms, the guy already ruined supes monthly book.

Agreement with the review.

As a career newspaper journalist of 20-plus years, I was also perturbed at Clark Kent’s “feature” at the end of the book. The writing voice was horrible; Perry White would have ripped Kent for the present tense style and putting himself in the story too much.

I don’t hate Shane Davis, I just think he is way out of his depth on a project like this, when Batman is going to be drawn by Gary Frank, whose been around US comics about 20 years, has had numerous strong runs on numerous titles, Shane Davis whose been around for far less than that and who is caught tracing faces is just not right for the project.

Saiz would probably have been out of his depth, too, but he’s still stronger than Davis, his Brave and The Bold issues are full of strong storytelling.

This should have gone to someone with some history, anyone. Not that DC has many artists with history anymore. Dustin Nguyen maybe. Would’ve been neat to see a Batman guy handle Superman while a Superman guy handles Batman.

What Dan DiDio says about anything means nothing, that man is a pompous windbag who will say and do anything he thinks will please his current interviewer. DiDio, I hate, Davis, I think needs to be seasoned, and stop tracing faces.

‘Aside from the “Earth One” brand itself (about which more later), there are very few Easter eggs for longtime fans. This is not a distillation of seventy-plus years’ worth of Superman stories into some platonic ideal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, it’s almost as if Straczynski and Davis are making a concerted effort to avoid such references.”

And thank god for this.

All Star Superman for example is a potage of wacky nostalgic elements that most non superfans would not relate to nor care about frankly.

Keep it simple.Keep it streamlined. Keep away nostalgia.Look where that got us with Superman Returns.

Anyone who thinks Davis art is not good needs to have their eyes examined.

But all this being said I I think many older fans will not like it like older people don’t get what young people get. You all had your wake up to Superman moment and for many of us it varies. Do you all really think young people will buy the Reeve Superman now? Not at all. And Superman never had much ethics when he and Lois were flirting and dating and him giving her scoops all the time and her winning Pultizers over a guy she wants to bang and then gets married to. Lois was generally a bad reporter. I hope JMS makes her more palatable and good to see Jimmy not some dick bow wearing nerd.

Some of the Davis’ art felt off too me. Especially the splash pages with the full body Superman. Overall the story was mildly enjoyable.

Loved it. Best Superman story published since John Byrne’s Man of Steel.
Absolutely brilliant. Read like a feature film.
A classic already!!!

“Anyone who thinks Davis art is not good needs to have their eyes examined.”

Nope. My specs were nice and clean, and he traced faces, and drew seriously UGLY hands on the cover. And every figure he draws looks AWKWARD. Maybe because the faces were traced.

Greg Land blows, too.

@Drunk Jack

That’s dispensing wisdom! Dustin Nguyen would have been excellent for this! I’ve been a fan of his since the “Wildcats 3.0″ days and his Batman work has been second only to the “Batman & Robin” artistic line-up…

Also, I can still stand Greg Land occasionally on covers, but altogether if a female character is there it’s a swipe from a Victoria’s Secret catalog. He’s not Greg Horn or Mike Mayhew, but pretty bad…

I bought the book because I’m a huge Superman fan and because I liked the preview pages for the book, especially the art.

Now, after I’ve finished it I have to say it isn’t my kind of Superman story. It feels too much like a constructed story for new (young) readers and Superman as a character feels too much like the version we already can see on Smallville.

Superman-The Movie for me still is the best Superman ‘Introduction’ and I’m still waiting for the right ‘update’ of the character.

I don’t understand why DC would hire this writer. He clearly is not a superhero writer. If you need any more example check his work at DC’s largest competition. He’s partially responsible for ruining their most famous character. He should be writing tv shows about old ladies solving mysteries. That’s what he’s best at.

I ACTUALLY LIKED EARTH ONE SUPERMAN. It’s good. Never really liked the overgrown buffoon but i kinda enjoyed this JMS take. It’s fresh, gritty and real. BTW I didn’t enjoyed that over hyped GM’S ALL Star Superman…

Anyway I am life long Marvel fan. If they keep this Earth One Superman universe fresh and interesting like the first volume. i am buying it in future…

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