Anil Rickly's SUPERMAN EARTH-1 Review = The MAN OF STEEL Returns
Look up to the skies...it's a bird? A plane?...it's someone...new?...
SUPERMAN EARTH-1 Review:
Reviewer: Anil Rickly –
Written by: Joe Straczynski aka JMS
Illustrated by: Shane Davis
JMS has been immaculate in my opinion on Thor as well as Spider-Man, and not to mention his screenplay for Clint Eastwood’s ‘CHANGELING.’
What’s even more amazing is his capacity to deliver Babylon 5, Crusade and Jeremiah stories for TV, in such a fine manner. His Spidey run also was a fave of mine, and while controversial, he had interference from editors, which also forced his hand, yet still piqued interest from all haters and lovers alike; and still he rumbled into amassing amazing Thor books to reintegrate him into Marvel’s comics again post-Ragnarok!
His other works include He-Man, She-Ra and other animated series, along with Twilight Zone, Walker Texas Ranger & Murder She Wrote. His Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer sequel didn’t make to screens but he has done Teen Titan, the Twelve, Silver Surfer, FF4 as well as Supreme Power comics and has been labeled as one of the best of the past decade.
At DC, Brave and the Bold, Superman and Wonder Woman are all under this scribe now and justifiably so. With a BAFTA award under him, and unmasking Spiderman to Civil War fans, I always know he gets into the dire meat of what he wants to do! Whether it’s controversial or not, he simply goes out to rock the story!
Now he gets the chance to reinvigorate and reintroduce a modern spun Superman to us…a la the Ultimates Universe in Marvel…and this is EARTH-1 of DCU. So does he retool well? He needs an artist to do this though…and did he get a great one?
Well, Shane Davis is up-and-coming an artist at DC…and is one of the best young guns around. Mike Deodato, Marko Djurdjevic, Steffano Caselli, Francesco Mattina, Khoi Pham, Steve McNiven and Simone Bianchi etc are all the Marvel hotshots that really take me aback, and I always felt DC did have less amazing artists in recent times. But Mauro Cascioli, Tony Daniel, Frazer Irving, David Finch, Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke and now, Shane Davis, are all showing their ability to elevate DC’s comics to a new level. Shane’s covers are top-class, and his ability to draw Batman, Green Lantern and other Lanterns, Robin, JSA, JLA, Nightwing as well as his Superman/Batman works showed such promise that when he got the task to deliver this book…it was just too giddy to keep waiting. And was it worth the wait? Was this duo of JMS and Davis worth it?
JMS really does well in showing a Clark filled with decrepit confidence in his stance on the future as he knows it, and it’s this uncertainty and ability to feel that failure is an option, and the ‘What should I do with my Life?’ feeling that makes Clark…relatable and simply, human…something that many writers fail to establish. JMS does well to make this ‘emo’ Clark work well, as this is what ‘Smallville’ lacks or tried to achieve, the substance that shows ‘Hey…that’s what I would be going through if I were literally in Clark’s shoes with all this Power at such a young naïve age’! Clark struggles to find the right job, as he runs from being the burdened savior…and this ties him closely to struggling angst, that is reminiscent to those now leaving the ‘teens’. Davis’ rendition of ‘hoodie’ Clark is also a breath of fresh air, and his art never slips up. They set the pace to show us forth…this kid doesn’t know if he is meant to be Superman, as he just wants to hide in the shadows and be normal. He humanizes this alien and this isn’t an easy feat. It’s about the journey to his heroic zenith, and it gives us a feeling of sympathy for an emotional yet powerful misery basket…a wreckage of a youth…a bundled kid not knowing where his Destiny leads him…and how long can one run from Greatness?
The job hunts are as much fun to read while admiring the effectively telling sketches! The art compliments a funny overtone that never undermines the gravity of the situation Clark is placed in – “Do I forget about being a hero?” The Daily Planet plot, along with such classy drawings of its workers, make for a breezy view, and JMS shows why he needs to have more on TV…his dialogue made me feel as if I were in the job getting pounded by Perry White. This seemed right out of a scrappy paper – it felt real…and this is something that few writers on Superman books mainstream fail to captivate. The flashbacks to the spaceship crash are as visceral and cathartic as they come, and they offer what past books and origins fail to do – they offer a strong sense of wonder and an eerie feeling of worry. The baby days to the teen days are all so well written and drawn that I did feel a hint of Geoff Johns’ ‘Secret Origins’ by Johns and Gary Frank…and this is a huge compliment. Key aspects in this book is shown in Clark playing off Jonathan’s grave, as well as the military complex hold on Clark’s ship, as there is a strong scientific twist JMS slips that is such a brilliant idea, that I literally gawked in wonder, as a Chemical Engineer myself. From Clark having no choice but to save the day when his apartment is set afire, and his new spun ‘x-ray vision’ to the suddenly intergalactic threat looming…Davis never skips a beat in all these panels, and JMS never misses a hit. They keep a fluidity going and the transitions are so smooth. There is a continuing flow of conversation, and Clark’s segue into saving the day is highlighted by a show of human resistance and loyalty that only Superman may evoke. The villain is unleashed and reminds me of Mike ‘Halloween’ Myers cross-bred with Silver Banshee, but has aspects of Heath Ledger’s Joker as he goes for the gut and straight to business…and always intriguing is the fate of Old Krypton and the new twist spun is welcome to me. So too is the audacity and determination of the new villain. Clark’s segue into Superman to the public at last is one which is fitting to be manifested on cinema, as Davis makes the impact of this page lasting! This is the Son of Krypton and of Earth.
The tribute to ‘Action Comics’ as well as Donner is there in measured doses, but when the villain engages the hero…who cares? I do…but I focus on the fight at hand, and we see hero and villain cutting loose, and unleashed in fine art and color. This is what Singer’s film lacked and sad to say, he shouldn’t come near Superman again…not even an action figure. There are obscure plot threads that are left dangling post-fight, and basically, when the enemy comes for Superman in an act of finishing genocide, I can guarantee you a hot load of action. The end was a bit rushed to me, as I felt the lack of closure with respect to the plot twists, and threads, should have played out but then again, this leave us wanting more…and how does a monthly book sound from Davis and JMS? Pretty kickass to me! For Clark, he realizes where the future lies, for now…and takes up a more common line we know for Kent. With a more updated nerdy look, we really see the Daily Planet reporters crank it up and show again why JMS is DIALOGUE. He simply is…nuff said. There isn’t romance, but as we end with the education of a certain alien beginning, as well as the commencement of Superman of this Earth finally taking to the skies…we wonder…is there the possibility of more familiar faces…and are they going to follow the romance and villainous threads we know? Maybe Lois should have gotten more book time, but the villainous thread remains shrouded in mystery and honestly, this was a great way to go. The artist and writer did what Mark Millar did when Ultimates burst forth…and that is a great feat indeed. I admire this book, and as fans of this DC duo, I am biased, but I’d call failure when I see it…and I am happy to say…I call no failure. This is what we need to get folks into this book again…and into this character!
So Zack Snyder, the Nolan bros, David Goyer and WB execs…please take notice as JMS has the TV and film kudos to show us the way. He has the chops and showed it…this can be the light…this graphic novel needs to be used as it has certain aspects that would awesomely contribute to the new rebooted film. Some things may not fit and do not honor our known Kent and Superman lore, but a lot of new spins and modern changes on this icon, occur in this book…and work well…a fine, fun retuning indeed!
This should be used as a reference source for the new film, and they need to move quickly as this can do what Nolan did in ‘Batman Begins’…this makes me eager for Johns/Frank ‘Batman Earth-1’ and the wait is suddenly…real…and killing me…
I rate this 9/10…irresistible!
See 'SUPERMAN' Editorial = With Snyder helming! Who is to don the cape?
Will Superman Earth 1 be relevant?
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