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    Entries in graphic novel (1)

    Sunday
    Nov072010

    Review: Superman: Earth One

    I just finished reading Superman: Earth One , by writer J. Michael Straczynski - of Babylon 5 fame - and artist Shane Davis.

    For those who don't know, Superman: Earth One is a retelling of the origin of Superman for the modern comic book reader.  Sounds novel, but in fact, DC Comics has retold Superman's origin no fewer than 4 different times in the last 10 years.

    My theory is that Superman is an iconic character, and readers of the character enjoy reading about his first time wearing the "S", or the first time Clark Kent meets Lois Lane, and of course, the first time Superman meets Lex Luthor.  And because these stories make money (possibly more than NEW stories about Superman) DC keeps making them.

    All that said, the FORMAT chosen for the origin is a new concept.  As much as movie-makers try to say that their making movies based on, "Graphic Novels", the majority of stories that make it into movie form are actually based on serialized comic books that have been COLLECTED into a trade paperback.  Watchmen is probably the most prominently presented as being based on a graphic novel, but it was originally released as individual comic books.  Superman: Earth One is the first of a series of planned, 'Original Graphic Novels' coming from DC Comics (the second being Batman: Earth One).

    It's a good story.  The art is cinematic and allows for some great battle sequences.  The dialog is on par with most well written modern comics.  And the characterization of characters like Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, are what they should be.  Rather than a generic gruff editor, Perry White is an experienced, former writer, with a good eye for what needs to be in his "paper".  Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are portrayed as courageous writers, and their ability to stick out a disaster is what sets them apart from your current day "bloggers".  And intelligently, they avoid touching on any romance between Superman and Lois Lane.  It's not needed in this story.  They even succeed in delivering a mystery for future novels, and they avoid COMPLETELY introducing Lex Luthor to this world.

    The format is also great for someone like J. Michael Straczynski, who's been well known to be late on stories that he starts, or even abandoning stories altogether.  Except for Midnight Nation, I can't think of a monthly comic that came out on time (Rising Stars has a year between several issues, The Twelve seems to have been completely abadoned, and although due to creative differences, he didn't finish his run on The Amazing Spider-Man).  But the graphic novel format means the story has to be complete before it can be released, so there's no wait inbetween planned issues.  It also means if he write future novels in the series, the schedule can be a bit more flexible, without leaving the audience waiting on an expected schedule.

    I have only a few negatives to mention.  Aside from being ANOTHER retelling of Superman's origin (as I mentioned before), I thought that the story felt incomplete.  There are a lot of mysteries left unsolved, and loose plot points, which I assume are to be addressed in future novels, but who knows if they will be.  I'd have preferred a complete story wrapped in the covers of the novel, but then maybe the novel would have been too long.

    Regardless, if you're looking for a satisfying Superman story, at a VERY reasonable prices (the number of pages you get for the price would have been about 50% more if it was published in traditional comic books), maybe Superman: Earth One is for you.

    Cheers,
    Paul