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Superman: Earth One

Brian Hibbs

About 2 months ago I received an advance copy of  the SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE original Graphic Novel. This was an uncorrected proof, and was a bit rougher than other galleys I get — there’s only about a dozen pages in color, other pages were inked, but not toned, while there’s even a few pencil-only pages. I get a lot of galleys from many different publishers, but this one came under the auspices of a ComicsPRO program, and I made a fatal error of thinking of it while wearing my “Critic” hat, rather than my ‘retailer” hat (I wear far too many hats)

DC was (and, let’s underline this very strongly) justifiably upset that I screwed up my hats, and as soon as I knew of their displeasure, I pulled the review, and apologized abjectly to DC through both official and unofficial channels. I screwed up, it was entirely my singular fault, and I strongly hope that DC will not penalize ComicsPRO retailers for my error (they haven’t sent out another preview since — which may or may not mean anything… or it could also just mean I personally have been removed from DC’s advance lists, I’m really not sure)

Either way, I erred deeply by posting the review 2 months ago, and I sincerely apologize for potentially jeopardizing some of DC’s promotional plans (among other things: sometimes “big media” are only interested in reviewing projects like this if they’re given some sort of “we’re first!” privileges. I don’t believe that this changed any of those plans, but it COULD have, and it was wrong of me to post the pre-publication review)

However, the book is out now, so it’s back to being fair game…

Here’s the balance of what I originally wrote, then I’ll come back at the end to talk about the final and finished book…

***

Obviously, since I’m reviewing from a galley, it is possible (though not, in my experience, likely) that some things will change about the final version. Take this with a lump of salt (not just a grain)

Also: there will likely be spoilers here. Generally when I review things, I assume you have a copy, so it’s more of a conversation than this will be.

So, let’s start with the easiest thing: the art. I didn’t like it very much. It isn’t that Shane Davis is an incompetent artist or anything, but his style is a little too scratchy to my tastes, overly rendered, without a strong enough foundation of story-telling or page layout that I would really want in an OGN series supposedly aimed at new readers. It’s like, I don’t know, pre-X-Men Jim Lee or something — you can see he’s got enough basic chops to develop somewhere interesting, but he’s just not quite “there” yet. There’s more than a few sequences where I can only kind of tell what is supposed to be happening, which is kind of a problem, really…

I wonder about the audience/remit for this line — everything would seem to indicate the idea is to create NEW “Superman” readers, especially ones in bookstores (otherwise why even DO an OGN?), but I don’t know that I can see this particular work really hitting with someone who hasn’t read comics in a while — in is, in my opinion, both simultaneously too crowded and hectic and, well, bombastic, while it is also a bit dull in places.

Part of the problem is, I think, that it seems like it is trying to serve too many masters at once — the emotional heart of the story is really Clark Kent trying to make a decision about whether or not he wants to be a hero and protector (as his parents want), or whether he wants to follow his own desires to “fit in” (which, for some reason, mostly seems to spin around financial renumeration) and become a football player or a research scientist or anything else where he’d be able to excel with his alien powers.

However, this is really kind of a false emotional dilemma, if only because it is about SUPERMAN — we know that, by hook or crook, he’s going to put on the costume and become a hero sooner than later, not just because of the character, but because of the writer and his expressed love of the nobility of Supes.

It isn’t that you can’t do “Questioning Clark”, but you kind of have to do it much earlier in his life, otherwise you sort of undercut the drama. Superman is better than we are — he HAS to be, or he isn’t “Superman”. His lessons about strength and power and helping people and the dangers and risks it entails all need to come when he’s a kid, or, at latest, as a teenager, not until after he’s left college. While I understand that for most normal Earth-humans the timeline of questioning works fine, Clark ISN’T a normal earth-human, he’s SUPERMAN, and by the time he enters Metropolis for the first time he might not be wearing the costume, but he needs to be well set on that path. Hell, by the time I was 20 I knew just what I wanted to be and do, and I followed that path the best I could — Clark should be WAY ahead of dumb ol’ me. So the timing really really didn’t work for me.

The other “master” here is the need or desire to also have a giant-threat blockbuster summer movie-style action sequences. These are delivered adequately, but, despite a noble attempt to tie it back into Clark’s backstory, I don’t think it really works at all. I’ll probably get back to that in a bit here.

Let’s talk a minute about the OGN structure — the suggestion is often made by many that OGNs are “better” because they can let a story breath, without the need for “artificial” breaks rigidly enforced every 22 pages. I could maybe possibly accept that (especially in light of semi-arbitrary 22 pages thing), except that I think that long stories really do need “Chapters”, and the best kind of “chapter”, be it in straight-up prose, or the commercial breaks in a TV show give you that same kind of “Wait, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!?!?!?!” feeling. That’s a lot harder to sustain over 128 (or whatever) pages, and I’m not certain I can think of any comics projects that have worked that way — even well-regarded works like, say, ASTERIOS POLYP or WILSON or MAUS have “chapters” that break the pacing up and give you minutes to pause or reflect (or even just barrel ahead).

SUPERMAN EARTH ONE has some really clumsy-ass pacing, and it really doesn’t breathlessly sustain itself over its whole length. This is sort of most glaring in a fairly early scene that switches away to the Army having some fragments of Kal’s ship, and a lot of blah-blah-blah about the government trying to understand it, and where it came from, and reverse-engineer it or whatever. I can see why these scenes were included (to provide a certain amount of [fairly unnecessary, at the end of the day] exposition, and to set-up a future thread on the Government trying to track Supes and so on), but really all they do is crash the forward momentum of the book to a halt, while not adding anything all that important to the narrative… certainly nothing that pays off in this volume. It might not be so bad if the Army officer or the scientist involved were given some characterization or motivation or something, but they’re largely ciphers as presented.

(Also: you don’t create a foil in a Superman comic with an “L” last name, and not give them an “L” first name — she’s “Sandra Lee” here — but that might just be my 60s-influenced mind speaking here!)

So, yeah, I actually and truly think this would have been better if it was written in “22 page chunks” because that forces a kind of economy in plotting and information release. ONE page of “Look, the Government!” might work, but five pages of it just drags on too long, and moves the focus from where it needs to be.

(I actually think that comics, in general, would be helped immeasurably if we had a return of EIGHT PAGE stories to teach people the economy of craft, but that’s a piece for a different day)

When the “Big Bad” comes along… well, the first problem is that he looks a bit too much, facially, like Lobo. There’s also a lot of shaky motivation going on here, tying in the baddie into Krypton in what just seems a pretty flimsy way to this reader, with the INDIVIDUAL motivation of the INDIVIDUAL badguy being a particularly dopey kind of generic and simple revenge, rather than any kind of a PERSONAL motivation. this is why Lex Luthor works so well as a Superman foil — he has an identifiable motivation (jealousy) to motivates him. The Baddie in this comic could be a hired gun for as much individual passion/motivation he brings.

There’s also the slight problem of an entire alien invading armada, attacking worldwide (they show us at least 6-8 cities under attack, and giant drills that will destroy the world like Krypton), but only a single Alien has a speaking part, and once Superman punches him hard enough, the entire threat dissolves utterly. Ugh!

So, yeah, plot, structure, motivation, virtually none of it worked for me — and I walked into this really hoping to be in love with it, and all I really got was a fairly bloated and muddy story. The worst thing is that I think that this probably could be “fixed” with 2 or 3 more drafts, and some real editorial oversight, and a general tightening of character and incident.

Did I like any of it? Well, yeah, I liked almost all of the scenes set in the Daily Planet, and I especially liked “Ultimate Jimmy Olson” (though Lois was fairly dull), so there’s that — I’d like to see JMS bring this version of Jimmy into the “real” Superman title… it wouldn’t even really need to be a “retcon”.

Though, having said that about the Planet, there’s a scene where Perry White makes the point that news is meant to be facts and news, and not Editorialized (Kurt Busiek kind of did this scene better in ASTRO CITY, in that story about the Shark God and the Silver Agent), but at the end of the book they run the actual stories that the Planet runs on Superman (Clark’s “interview” with Superman that gets him the job, that one), and damn if it isn’t as editorial as-all-get-out. Damn it.

Ultimately, I think this OGN goes on too long, tries to be too many things, is is tremendously weak on characterization and motivation, except for the false emotional dilemma of  “should I sell out, or put on the costume?”, and doesn’t really add do anything to appeal to the theoretical audience that it is shooting for, and, in Savage Critic terms, that, sadly, makes it AWFUL.

Normally I’d ask “What did YOU think?” at this juncture, but you won’t be able to for like 5-6 weeks…

*****

Hi, back in the present now!

The final book is pretty handsome, actually — I like the “European” style (not dustjacketed) hardcover, and the book has good “hand” for the $20 price tag, and I like the embossing on the cover too.

The color “solves” some of the art problems (though, still not on the storytelling front, really), but it adds some new ones — flashbacks aren’t colored distinctively enough to show the time jumps, in my opinion.

There weren’t any substantial (or any? I’m not going page-by-page or anything!) changes to the text, and if anything, my opinion on the essential moral weakness of this Clark is now magnified — I don’t like this guy, I don’t like his avoidance of being Superman, and I especially found Ma & Pa’s scenes to be fairly inexplicable in making him a costume or whatever.

There’s a line at the end that I glossed over in my first read that I think encapsulates my problems with this as a Superman comic — in the (kind of) Fortress of Solitude scene Clark’s super-smart metal says to him “Your task is to survive.  To use your powers well and wisely. And to avenge the murder of your homeworld.” (emphasis mine)

Buh?

To me, at least, Superman isn’t about vengeance — not even close. In fact, Superman is about exactly the opposite. Superman is the guy who will do anything possible to avoid a fight — precisely because he knows we’re better than that, even the screwed up people. Superman is about HOPE. About making things BETTER, about showing that even the worst situation can be made better if someone reaches out a hand in help and understanding.

In the ’78 film my favorite scene might be the tiny little sequence where he stops to save a cat from a tree. Yeah, that’s maybe a little cornball, but that’s Superman. He’s more powerful than anyone, anywhere, but “power” doesn’t mean a lot if you’re not trying to help people with it.

THAT is a metaphor that we need, that we should embrace — not this whining, myopic coward who won’t step forward until the entire world is being threatened.

DC has already announced a second printing, so I guess this is having some early success in the DM at least (if you have a Baker & Taylor account go look at the velocity of backorders there; this doesn’t look so hot in the bookstore market as I’m reading the indicators), and good for them, I guess. But I really disliked this book, and I stand by my AWFUL assessment.

If I were to hand a Superman comic to a “civilian”, I’d want them to buy ALL-STAR SUPERMAN instead.

What did YOU think?

-B

53 Responses to “ Superman: Earth One ”

  1. So the evidence accrues that JMS is one of the last writers that should be handling Superman.

  2. “Who should be” that is. Man, I wish you could edit comments

  3. “Comments.” AARGH!

  4. Damn.
    I’d been really looking forward to that one.
    At least it doesn’t sound like he’ll be lecturing his way across America here, but I’d been hoping this would have been like another Birthright – a great origin story, with a slightly more modern take on the character – but then with the actual follow up of exploring this new take on the character.
    This review makes it sound like a book that doesn’t know why it exists.

  5. “Let’s talk a minute about the OGN structure — the suggestion is often made by many that OGNs are “better” because they can let a story breath, without the need for “artificial” breaks rigidly enforced every 22 pages. I could maybe possibly accept that…[.]”

    First of all, no one’s really argued OGNs are “better” than any other comic. People like collected editions, sure, and some works are better if they give the creator the freedom an OGN does (Love & Rockets), but the idea someone is saying an OGN is superior to anything else is a bit of a strawman you trotted out because you always advocate floppies are better for your store.

    Second, you don’t read many books, do you? I mean the kind without pictures. You must not, because a beauty of books is they have the space to breath however the author chooses. If the author wants a chapter to be 5 or 100 pages, no problem, and if they don’t want any chapters at all, that can happen too. So perhaps you would “maybe possibly accept” forced 22 page breaks are better if you read more.

  6. Sooooooo, someone comes in off the street and says, “Hey Mr. Comic Shop Retailer Guy, I don’t read comics but would like to purchase a graphic novel telling me all about Superman, who he is and how he came to be. Would you recommend this here Superman: Earth One, or Superman: Secret Origin or Superman: Birth Right?”

    What would you tell them?

  7. “a beauty of books is they have the space to breath however the author chooses.”

    But the difference with prose is that the writers set the pace, be it through narration, dialogue, or other techniques. With comics, it’s a joint effort on the part of the writers and artists. The writer needs to be able to convey enough substance in each panel to justice the separation of each panel, and the artist has to make sure that each panel conveys that information to do one of several things: push the plot along, set the scene, heighten the mood, create atmosphere, convey a specific action, expression a certain emotion, etc.

    But we’re not talking about art, really. We’re talking about a Superman book aimed for the mass market. It doesn’t have the luxury to waste space.

  8. Chris Hero:

    “First of all, no one’s really argued OGNs are “better” than any other comic.”

    Have you ever read the CBR message boards? Man, there are scores of people advocating for the complete death of the periodical and clearly and directly saying that OGNs are inherently better than serialization.

    (Not that one should especially VALUE the opinion of WOLVERINE547 or whatever, but I’ve read that more times than I could count upon the net)

    >>>Second, you don’t read many books, do you? I mean the kind without pictures. You must not, because a beauty of books is they have the space to breath however the author chooses.<<<

    *sigh*

    I don't believe I've ever advocated that each unit-of-serialization must have x pages of a particular story in all circumstances. The final printed package has to be in increments of 4, and I think that the consumer has a "minimal size" expectation of around 32 pages per serial (barring experimental things), so that a 16 page lead would need a 6 page back-up to "fill out" the book, but I'd be perfectly fine with a comic that was 16 pages of feature one month, and 36 the next, if that's what the story dictated, and it was good work. I'd defy you to show me where I've ever said or suggested otherwise?

    (That said, CEREBUS worked pretty brilliantly at 20-pages-rigid — scenes would cut in the middle, and then be seamless in the collection)

    Caleb:

    I'd actually probably say MAN OF STEEL over those three, followed, I think (though haven't read the conclusion) by SECRET ORIGINS. I didn't much care for BIRTHRIGHT, either.

    -B

  9. Brian, I just finished reading my advance preview copy, and I have to say that while I thought your points regarding why Superman Earth One didn’t work for you, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed this book, think it has some great superhero art, and will look fantastic in its full color hardcover format when it’s released in September (I guess that’s why you’re the Savage Critic and I’m not – grin!). I think that people will pick this up, enjoy it, will definitely feel that they got their moneys worth, and ask for more. I also really like the walkabout storyline that JMS is doing with the monthly Superman title.

    Not that anyone is asking, but my favorite original Superman graphic novel is Steven Segal’s It’s A Bird. What did you think of that book, Brian?

  10. The words “were of course well thought out” should be after the words “…didn’t work out for you” in my post above.

  11. It’s all been downhill since Jayce and his Wheeled Warriors, if you ask me.

  12. Brian,

    I have trouble seeing how you logically get from “book-length comics need to be conscious about pacing” to “there needs to be a break every 22 pages.”

    It’s, uh, tempting to suspect that it’s not a storytelling issue that’s motivating your line of thinking there.

  13. “You must not, because a beauty of books is they have the space to breath however the author chooses.”

    This seems to be a real point of division amoung readers.

    I don’t give a crap about what the author wants or what his particular creative vision might be. I care about what a book or comic means to me, not what it means to the author, and I think that’s a fairly common perspective.

    On the other hand, there seems to be a decent number of folks who don’t relate to their entertainment/art in such a manner. They function less like consumers and more like admirers or indulgent patrons who focus on the creator and not the creations.

    Mike

  14. Brian,

    I just read this too, and I felt much the same way as you. The pacing was off and the art was ok, but not showstopping. Considering the fact that JMS could probably work with just about whomever he choose, I wonder about the choice of artist in for this. I think the Batman book seems a bit more promising.

    dan shahin

  15. I wish I knew how to retweet that this has been republished… as far as I can tell the software is treating it as the original post…

    -B

  16. This has nothing to do with Superman: Earth One, but I just had to mention DC bragging about JT Krul being signed to an exclusive contract. First, I somehow doubt Mr. Krul was in a really high demand elsewhere. Second, if I was a competing company I would send out press releases about this, too, and include panels from almost anything he has written. Some of the best advertising against DC you could have.

  17. Nice review, Mr. Hibbs. But, golly, that last bit was like a punch to the sternum…

    “…this whining, myopic coward who won’t step forward until the entire world is being threatened.” That’s just peachy that is. My ire is riled. C’mon DC, Superman is The Best of Us, isn’t he? But this aspect is the first thing DC drop because y’know the adventures of Peter Perfect are dull and say nothing to anyone in the real world: Shades of gray, nobody’s perfect, blah blah blah.

    Yet such thinking omits the possibility that in a world such as ours The Best of Us would have to struggle even harder than the rest of us. I’m with Mr. Hibbs here, less gazing into one’s own unblinking fundament and more cat saving. Still, I’m not in anyway the audience for this one so I’ll shut up now.

    Speaking of cats…JT Krul sure is doing well for himself.

  18. I haven’t read the book, but it seems to me, if Superman is being told:

    Your task is to survive. To use your powers well and wisely. And to avenge the murder of your homeworld.

    That doesn’t mean it is -his- task, it means that whoever is telling him that perceives it as Superman’s task. If someone tells me I must do X, that doesn’t mean I believe I have to do X. There’s a nuance you’re missing there.

  19. I just re-read my comment. Geez, I was angry that day. I wonder why? Anyway, I’m sorry for posting an angry comment. That was wrong of me.

    Anyone who argues an OGN is “better” than a floppy (sorry, can’t think of a better word) is really looking at the wrong thing altogether. OGNs work great for some projects, sure, but it ultimately doesn’t matter as much as the question of whether this particular project will find an audience.

    Once again, I apologize for the mean comment. There’s no place for that ever.

  20. @mbunge:

    “On the other hand, there seems to be a decent number of folks who don’t relate to their entertainment/art in such a manner. They function less like consumers and more like admirers or indulgent patrons who focus on the creator and not the creations.

    Ehh, I don’t think that’s quite it. Maybe this problem exists with superhero comics, I don’t know, but it seems like a problem I hear from that audience. I think when someone decides they like a certain author or artist’s work, it’s only natural to start studying the form and functionality of how that creator uses their medium to tell a story. I mean, sure, you could read L&R vol 3 and just say, “I liked it” or “I hated it,” but it’s more fun (to me, anyway) to examine it in the context of Xaime’s catalog of work and try to decipher how he’s telling the story and why he’s telling it that way. If that makes me a Xamie mark, so be it.

  21. No worries, Chris, but thanks for apologizing (even if it was uneeded)

    -B

  22. “In the ’78 film my favorite scene might be the tiny little sequence where he stops to save a cat from a tree.”

    Although I’ve got my issues with much of the rest of the film, my fave Superman film moment is in Superman Returns, when he steps out of the plane, and the stadium goes wild.
    That’s the Superman I like, and it always bugs me reading stories where people trust him, or there’s doubts about his intentions.

    “Speaking of cats…JT Krul sure is doing well for himself.”

    Are his books lighting up the charts, and I just miss seeing them whenever I look at top sales?
    He wrote a nice two pager in Superman/Batman #75, but anything else I’ve read by him has been, every review I’ve read of his work has been bad, and the previews in the backs of DC books for his Green Arrow and Teen Titans were terrible.
    The Green Arrow one was just silly (it’s a terrible concept from the get go), and the Titans one made no sense to me whatsoever, and just felt like a waste of Nicola Scott’s talents.

  23. Sorry for the confusion, Ben Lipman, that should have been “J T Krul sure seems to be doing well for himself.” Perception is all with these exclusivity announcements. If they say it long enough and loud enough J T Krul will shortly be anointed with the “white hot fan favourite” label and after that it’s all gravy, babycakes.

    There’s a line in 2666 by Bolano that runs: “Make your name, then sleep.” A line which seems unfortunately pertinent to the wacky world o’comics. A world in which, the production of something as basic to the mainstream as a Superman OGN results in a verdict of “Awful”.

  24. Brian, I understand that you have strong feelings about who Superman is and what he represents, but since this was an “updated” origin story there is still time for the character to become That Guy you love. I was always a Marvel kid so I never had great affection for Superman as a paragon of virtue or whatever so that is probably why I don’t cringe at this representation the way a Mormon does when someone uses the lord’s name in vain. It’s just a “different” take out of many. I certainly don’t feel like reading another Birthright/Secret Origins/Man of Steel… *yawn*. But you did support your grade in the review well with your story-specific criticisms of the pacing and art.

    (I just received an email from a co-worker named Sandra Lee).

  25. “I think when someone decides they like a certain author or artist’s work, it’s only natural to start studying the form and functionality of how that creator uses their medium to tell a story.”

    Which isn’t a problem, unless someone decides that everything a creator does is good and evaluations must start at that point. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a fan of a creator respond to criticism of that creator’s work by essentially saying “I don’t care about that”. Which is a perfectly valid judgment for someone to make for themselves, but in no way invalidates, disproves or delegitimizes the criticism.

    Mike

  26. “Make your name, then sleep.”

    FYI, that’s an ancient Spanish proverb (“cría fama y échate a dormir”).

  27. Cheers 24.24.etc, the book did say it was an old Spanish proverb but those kinda books can be tricksy! It’s a good proverb alright and thanks again for the info.

  28. “Which isn’t a problem, unless someone decides that everything a creator does is good and evaluations must start at that point.”

    Ahh…good point. Although, I think everyone has a few favorite creators, musicians, directors, whatever, they have that problem with. But yes, you are right, saying, “I don’t care about x, I still like this work,” does not invalidate a criticsm.

    BTW – I just want to add I’m enjoying the Hell out of John K(UK)’s comments on this thread.

  29. Thank you for the class in accepting my apology, Brian. I’m going to strive to be more polite in all my communications. Anger doesn’t make any conversation better. ^_^

  30. “Sorry for the confusion, Ben Lipman, that should have been “J T Krul sure seems to be doing well for himself.” Perception is all with these exclusivity announcements. If they say it long enough and loud enough J T Krul will shortly be anointed with the “white hot fan favourite” label and after that it’s all gravy, babycakes. ”

    Oh I’m with you – I wasn’t questioning you, more the make-up of reality.
    From what I can see, his books don’t sell particularly well, and he doesn’t get very good reviews.
    Yet every other month, he gets a new title.

    It’s like Bill Jemas’ bizarre fascination with giving Ron Zimmerman work, from the start of the decade, but it’s happening over a longer period, and instead of mini’s, fill in’s and one-shots, the guys gone straight to ongoings.

    I know Stan lied when he said we were the bosses, but if we’re not voting for someone with our wallets, and they aren’t a critical darling, then why would you keep giving that writer work?

    That said, every time he comes out for a panel at cons, they should play this Grinspoon song from the 90′s:
    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/grinspoon/dcx3.html
    (That’s just the lyrics, can’t find a good youtube clip of the song).

  31. What does it tell you that the best Superman comics are almost 50 years old?

    That he doesnt’t need ‘updating’. (or wearing a hood and being insecure)

    Of course, it does require a certain level of intelligence and reflection to appreciate i.e. Superman 145-160 as Masterpieces in Comic book history.

    Something youngsters, with their illiteracy clearly lack…

  32. “What does it tell you that the best Superman comics are almost 50 years old?

    That he doesnt’t need ‘updating’.”

    Er, if the best Superman comics are 50 years old, then yes, I think he does need updating – or a drastic change of some sort – because apparently nothing done in the last 50 years has been working.

  33. Er, again, I am reading those comics in 2010. They work.
    I should know, I read them.

    And yes, All Star Superman also works. Why? Because it emulates the wonder of the 60ies comics. Personally I prefer the original, though, because the whole medium was nowhere near as self-conscious as today.

  34. For what it’s worth, Ingram seems to have sold through their stock of this in the two days since I last had a look, and each of the four warehouses now has an average of about 100 copies on backorder.

    (I think the publication date for the mass market isn’t ’till next week — Tuesday, November 2 is what Ingram says, at any rate.)

  35. “What does it tell you that the best Superman comics are almost 50 years old?”

    Just that you like the middle-aged dad iteration of Superman more than the other iterations…? Which is fine– that’s a damn fine iteration. It’s preferable to the early 90′s bro-dude Superman with the mullet– or that bizarre electric-blue Superman of the late 90′s (still confused what that was all about).

    But updating’s inherent to the character. Morrison’s post-9/11 evangelical Super-Jesus wasn’t the same character as that guy. And neither of those guys was anything like the guy in the 30′s or 40′s– who was basically an insane madman with a very dark sense of humor, if the stories I’ve read are any indication. You have to be happy they updated the character because otherwise we’d be stuck watching that guy torment people, and that guy… 40′s Superman was one bad mother.

    145-160 is a darn good stretch though.

  36. “Er, again, I am reading those comics in 2010. They work.”

    They’re not making DC any money right now. The whole point is what kinds of Superman books they should be putting out NOW.

    And I hate to tell you, but today’s audience (and today’s non-audience – that is, people who don’t read comics) probably don’t share your love of 50-year-old-style stories, or the way Superman was portrayed in them.

  37. I am today’s audience.

    Because I have money and a pulse.

  38. “today’s audiencep robably don’t share your love of 50-year-old-style stories, or the way Superman was portrayed in them.”

    hey buddy—don’t go introducing reality into the fantasyland on this site…

  39. Brandon:

    “Brian, I understand that you have strong feelings about who Superman is and what he represents, but since this was an “updated” origin story there is still time for the character to become That Guy you love.”

    In my heart of hearts, Superman doesn’t *become* “Superman” — he pretty much always is.

    If he isn’t, then he isn’t Superman — he’s just a strong guy who flies and stuff.

    -B

  40. You just described the worst story in the history of stories.

    “I was born perfect, everything I did was perfect, and here, I am, perfect, doing perfect things all the time. I never struggled, because I’m perfect. I never had to figure out what was right and wrong, because, you know, perfect.”

    If that’s who Superman is, in your heart of hearts, then now I understand why so many people criticize Superman as the blandest character imaginable.

  41. Dave- that isn’t what Brian was saying;(and seeing as how he didn’t say anything remotely like your ‘I was born perfect’ spiel, I think you know that)
    Because Superman doesn’t need to become Superman doesn’t mean that Superman is perfect or that he is without conflict.
    That people think Superman is boring because he isn’t Spiderman might be more of a failing of those readers than of the character himself.

  42. I got the time to read the graphic novel over the weekend – my store had sold out so I had to have a hunt at bookstores, and then my girlfriend wanted me to spend time with her, rather than sit next to her reading Superman – and for the most part, I disagree with Brian’s assessment.

    I thought the story was pretty good – had some pacing issues, and it isn’t my fave Superman origin ever – but I was entertained the whole time I read it, and more importantly, can’t wait to see more.

    The biggest let down for me was the villain, especially as I had to flick back through to find out what his name was – and when I read it was ‘Tyrell’, well, it’s no wonder it slipped out of my mind so quick.

    The art had some odd layouts every now and again, but it’s the first time I’ve seen why DC seems so excited about Shane Davis – it was very reminiscent of Hitch, at that great period where his art was just taking shape into his style, but before it became to posed and static.

    I’d also probably hand this to a ‘civilian’ over All-Star Superman – it was remarkably free of winks and nods to the existing reader, and none of it felt like it was happening because that’s what supposed to happen.
    If it was between this and Birthright though… I’m not sure which one I’d give them.

    I do have to question Clark wanting to join the Daily Planet because he loves their dedication to the truth, and then gets the job with his exclusive interview with Superman, saying only positive things – he basically wrote himself a press release then passed it off as an interview. At least if Lois gets the first interview, there was a chance he’d get caught out saying the wrong thing.
    Look at all the grief CEO’s get if they are caught out feeding questions to a journalist, let alone if they invented a journalist just to interview them!

    As for the ‘avenge those who murdered the planet’ – I don’t think it’s going the way Brian does.
    I either see it as he’s meant to stop the threat from the rest of the galaxy, OR, he will go for revenge, but realise that isn’t the solution.
    It’s there in the story that Krypton was no better than them, and that someone manipulated the other planet into attacking Krypton – but it still doesn’t feel like we’ll get revenge oriented Superman from it.

    But all in all, I had a really good time reading this book, and really can’t wait for the next one!

    “If that’s who Superman is, in your heart of hearts, then now I understand why so many people criticize Superman as the blandest character imaginable.”

    No, it’s just that he’s Superman because he wants to do the right thing.
    He didn’t need his parents to be murdered in front of him, or for his uncle to be murdered because he didn’t act, just that he became Superman because that’s who he is.

  43. I think he became Superman not because that’s who he is, but that’s how he was raised. See: pretty much every Elseworlds they ever did about Superman.

    He’d be a pretty crappy person if he had that much power and used it selfishly. And the Kents don’t raise crappy people. Is my guess. What if Superman had been found by a couple where the husband cheats on his wife and the wife drinks? Would he still end up as Big Blue?

  44. Peter: I actually would love to see an Elsewords like the one you just described, lol.

  45. “I am today’s audience.

    Because I have money and a pulse.”

    I was speaking collectively, and thankfully you’re not a collective.

  46. How do you avenge your homeworld blowing up by itself?

  47. Anyway, read Golden Age Detective Comics instead.

  48. [...] Two things that have nothing to do with one another!DanielT on Crazy crazy crazy nightsJohn Bird on Superman: Earth One Recently [...]

  49. Huh, that last link thing is really really fucking odd?

    John Bird: in this version, it didn’t blow itself up…

    -B

  50. My library got this and I managed to read it this week, and I think the art was fantastic. As for everything else, well…

    It was…all right.

    SPOILERS

    I was not very impressed with JMS’ alterations to Superman’s origin and yeah, I think Clark’s waffling did not do much for me. I think JMS did a great job on Lois, Perry and Jimmy and I liked the idea of the Daily Planet falling on hard times and the exclusive Superman photo saving it. But largely I think Waid’s Birthright did a far better job at telling the tale of Superman’s origin.

    The new bad guys? mediocre. Give me Luthor every time. I think the story would have been better told had we gotten Luthor’s origin, but I suppose JMS was trying to do something different and I can’t help but give him credit for that.

    I give it a 6/10.

  51. the Eh/Okay border for me

  52. Whatever..”Earth One Superman” was VERY GOOD for my taste. I don’t like Superman that much but this was really good read..It’s such a huge hit among so many new readers…my friends who hated Superman enjoyed it. Anyway i will collect future volumes if they keep it fresh and good like the first one.

  53. [...] jako dítě z planety Krypton, na Zemi se ho ujali manželé Kentovi. Brian Hibbs z blogu The Savage Critics však zpochybňuje jeho motivaci, v Earth One se totiž mstí za zničení rodné planety. Hibbs [...]

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