Review: Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski

How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: I love a good origin story.

How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.

My Summary: A modern look at Clark Kent as a young man fresh out of college with an endless sea of options to suit his Kryptonian abilities. As hard as it is to cope with being the lone survivor of an alien world, it’s even harder to become a superhero.

My Review: This was a wonderful story that was also remarkably well-illustrated. It is really a lovely little homage as well as a re-working of a mythic story as well-known and beloved as any fairy tale or epic saga. I really felt for Clark as a character and his struggles seemed very real in a touching way. There were great lines, and I think this is a more intimate look at Clark than I’ve seen before.

I loved the design and back story given to Clark’s first –and also alien– bad guy. I enjoyed watching Clark try not to become a superhero and turning down tons of great options because they were not any less likely to make him feel like an outsider than any other alternative including –initially– a job at the Daily Planet. I also appreciated the slight changes made in regards to Clark’s adopted parents and the new spin/angle given to Krypton’s demise.

That said, I had to deduct 1 star though for the lack of originality in regards to the graphic novel’s conclusion. Allow me to explain.

(Warning: The following sections contain spoilers.)

Now I didn’t need every aspect of the Superman story to be new and strangely unfamiliar, but I was a bit disappointed by the end. Even in a more contemporary setting, Clark still opts to not do anything with his gifts in his real life. Instead he once again turns that life he had as a child and could have had as an adult into a mask which will allow himself away to help the world but by the same token never let him be a part of it.

I know that’s what we’ve all come to accept as Superman’s predetermined fate or destiny, but I think Clark could still have kept a low profile and been happier opting to be a scientist. I understood sports being ruled out, but being intelligent is not a uniquely alien trait. I’m sure no one would notice a fairly smart, nerdy scientist anymore than they seem to notice a dull, dorky reporter. And Clark could just as easily wear glasses as a scientist as he could with any other profession. Furthermore, Clark lives in the same world as Bruce Wayne. If no one can figure out Bruce Wayne is Batman, I think Clark is pretty much safe for the rest of his days.

In conclusion, this graphic novel was very fun and entertaining, but nothing substantially new. It’s definitely worth checking out though in terms of its incredibly good art and solid writing, especially if you’re a hardcore Superman fan.

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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