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Graphic Novel Review: Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis

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Yet another retelling of the Superman origin: so many writers have attempted to wrest this character from the hands of the two kids from Cleveland who first came up with him; so many have fumbled it.

The first entry in a new series of graphic novel rewrites of classic DC characters, Superman: Earth One focuses on a young Clark Kent’s first days in 21st Century Metropolis. Writer J. Michael Straczynski presents our hero-in-the-making as young and callow, not yet ready to wear the Big S until an alien invader shows up to wreak havoc on planet Earth. Said invader, a mime-faced nasty named Tyrell, is the member of a race responsible for the destruction of Superman’s home planet Krypton: a major story change since it turns what was once a natural event into an act of wartime aggression, changes the Man of Steel from a divinely sent hero into Batman, basically.

Whether you accept this conceptual shift is most likely the key to whether the new GN will speak to you. I can already anticipate the reviews discussing how Superman: Earth One takes the character into the post-9/11 World, but was this trip necessary? To be sure, Stracynzki and artist Shane Davis tell their tale with plenty of slick visual energy and snappy dialog. They don’t mess with the other Metropolis mainstays — Lois, Jimmy and Perry – and both the city and its alien attackers look spiffy. But this reader still couldn’t help comparing Earth One to Superman — The Movie: much good honest dramatic work done in the service of too much dumb material (the movie’s Lex Luthor as would-be land baron, this book’s portrayal of Superman as costumed avenger). Sorry, guys, but two young newcomers with marginal writing and drawing skills still own Superman — even if they lost the rights to him decades ago.

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.