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Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski

01/11/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Superman: Earth One in the USA - or Buy Superman: Earth One in the UK

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pub: Superman: Earth One by J.Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis. DC Comics. 136 page hardback graphic novel. Price: $19.99 (UK), $23.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4012-2468-4.

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Hitting the big twenty, a young looking Clark Kent is in a bit of an identity crisis as to what to do with his life when he hits Metropolis. Brought up by his foster parents with a need to conceal his super-powers and a sense of responsibility, it’s only a recent disclosure that he isn’t even human that ponders on his mind. All they have to show for where he came from was his blankets and a fragment of his spaceship. That was all they had before the military arrived on the scene and took the bigger remains away not quite sure what to make of it. Certainly, they weren’t looking for an alien on Earth.

Martha Kent even makes a costume from the blankets for her foster son, figuring that a colourful design will keep people from focusing too much on his face which he shouldn’t cover up because adding a mask would terrify people considering how powerful he is. An interesting observation and quite contrary to that chap over in Gotham, although I doubt if he was around at this time. There is one observation I was to make about the blanket costume is considering how tough the thread was, how did Martha break it up to make the chest and cloak logo without her foster son’s help and was there any material left? Likewise, what part of the fabric did she make the boots from. Author Joe Straczynski has obviously put a lot of thought into various aspects of this story but occasionally, it’s likely to have someone like me questioning some aspects as well.

Clark Kent is a bit wary of this costume and is on a job hunt ranging from technology to reporter, not happy with any of the choices fitting him. The introduction to the Daily Planet is actually priceless with editor Perry White explaining sentence structure and two young reporters, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen already there. There’s no indication of how old either of these two are but it is rather weird thinking that Olsen might actually be a little older than Kent.

It is only when a giant alien spaceship arrives seeking the last son of Krypton and if he isn’t surrendered they will destroy the Earth that the Kent’s spaceship starts re-engaging itself and pulling itself together. Seems these aliens also came from the same star system, the planet Dheron no less, and frequently battled with the Kryptonians. Indeed, they were responsible for Krypton’s destruction with a little help from someone in the shadows. The Dherons are as powerful as Kryptonians in yellow sunlight and they look a little like Czarnians, Lobo’s extinct people for those who don’t know.

This story is essentially a coming of age story but there is no hint of how it all fits in with DC Universe reality at this time which is understandable because Superman looks like he’s potentially the only super-hero around. He has to be, really, or you would have expected others to turn up to stop the destruction of the world.

Straczynski puts a lot of nice touches in, including Clark Kent’s first published story, an interview with Superman which has a nice touch to ‘Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan of what not to do. Clark Kent might support the American way of life but he believes in the British policy of creating the peace than enforcing it. Shane Davis art re-enforces the story although if I have to be critical, depicting every strand of hair on people’s heads, especially Clark Kent’s, tends to make it look too greasy and perhaps a little younger than his twenty years of age. But those things aside, this is an interesting graphic novel and Straczynski uses his skill to jump back and forth in Clark Kent’s life so it has the most significance in his current life. It certainly re-enforces that he wasn’t always a secure person and just like anyone else having to work out what to do with their life. A definite book to read for anyone of that age wanting an uplift, even if you’re not Superman.

GF Willmetts

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