Rickly's Review - Superman: Earth One - Volume 2

Rickly's Review - Superman: Earth One - Volume 2

...JMS and Shane Davis helms the highly-anticipated sequel to the NY Times #1 Bestselling Graphic Novel...as Clark Kent's contemporary story continues...does this fresh new-take live up to expectations?

Is it Ultimate Superman? Well...Vol.1 had a lot of slugging and name-calling...'Hoodie' Kent and 'Emo' Superman were some of the names unjustly thrown around. I found V1 to be a welcomed spin and one which wouldn't be another iteration of a rehashed tale...but a new take and a footprint for a future film. I made mention of that template as a film, and weeks later after I reviewed V1 on CBM, right here...and touted Cavill as a pick, boom...Snyder took the film...and Nolan and company...announced Cavill.

Well, I liked V1 a lot...it's apparent...but I could see where criticism made sense. The only thing was that I was able to overlook minor flaws because I realized that we needed something fresh rather than another arbitrary 'elseworld' tale. The villain didn't stack up well but JMS did a magnificent job with a more human-esque Kent...and a Superman built around empathy more and more. The sequel continues in the same vein with a great representation of Superman and Kent...but the story left something to be desired.

It's nice to see JMS sticking to substance over style. His take on Kent's journalism career, and the industry on the whole, is sparkling. It was also very elegant how Lois and Jimmy were strewn across the backdrop, yet given such key moments, where their potency to the mythos showed in leaps and bounds. Perry was also well-written and it's nice to see JMS' handle here...which leaves me beguiled as to why he didn't grasp this as fully on the mainstream title before the new 52.

Kent is the strongest character I've read from JMS since Thor...and I mean E1 Kent! It's a Clark Kent book...not a Superman book. That's the biggest asset here. It shows his struggles with humanity, his moral compass, his endearment toward the opposite sex, his admiration for the weak and also, his battle not only to fit in, but to succeed as a human while never negating his heritage and ancestors. It's remarkable how human he's depicted with conflict, turmoil and resolution bubbling. It's even better to see a more Superboy-esque feel to Kent as he bumbles around solutions. This is the kind of altruistic vibe that works to show his progression and evolution as he matures. He's too young and isn't ready for the emblem that we are accustomed to. JMS does well to show that he's Superman but he may not be ready.

The downfall comes in with Parasite, whose origin is altered neatly, but yet he plays the same role of the villain from V1. He's there as a foil and feels like a backup rather than a serious threat. Sure, he drains Kent (note I never refer to Kal-El) but he's not as emotionally imposing as he is physically. With Kent being immature, jovial and steeped in an unnecessary levity at times, a more-mentally menacing Parasite would have worked better, yet we get another slobberknocker without that emotional thread. The end of the battle and the links to Parasite's family seem rushed and it's a haphazard finale. The climax also falls a bit short with the introduction of new villains, which were a bit surprising, yet it felt too forced. It's clear how they will factor in come V3 but they seem inorganic here as the segue appears lacking.

JMS seems to be upping the ante on a match for Kent and this may well figure in nicely but the lack of exposition on the villain's motives from V1 (as well as who hired him to kill Kent), the lack of ship's evolution in V2, the wayward design of Kent's battle-armour, and an odd series of relationships, take the momentum away at times. Maybe, the book should have been longer?

That said, Kent's relationships here needed to be fleshed out a bit more. JMS does a grand job with the romantic aspect, as well as with a random yet tragic friendship, but much more needed to weigh in. Maybe some more Smallville? Nonetheless, while the villainous battle goes awry again, it's nice an aspect to see Kent gain more insight into humans. I hope to see more Krypton, more familiar faces come next release, but most of all, I think this should be a bi-monthly series, as JMS has a lot of fodder and seeds planted to play with.

Shane Davis' art is grittier than V1 and he shines away. His pencils are spot-on although the action sequences could have done with a bit more gusto. His take on the face of Kent is splendid as it shows him traversing a vast array of emotions, especially his younger days. It's a nice brass tax on what could be perceived as either a brash young hero...or a kid torn as to where his place lies in the world. Davis' work here definitely shows his improvement and sets his standard even higher. It really was a finely illustrated book and deserves its plaudits.

In ending, it's a tale about Clark Kent...and it works. The Superman stories and battles need some adjusting and a bit more finesse on its mechanics, and that's why I can't rate it as high as I want to. I enjoyed it but it's a Kent title...and what I really jumped in for was a Superman book. That said, I think JMS has bold plans for V3 and I can't wait!!

Rating = 7/10
Posted By:
Anil Rickly
Member Since 5/14/2009
Filed Under "DC Comics" 11/3/2012
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Ancar - 11/4/2012, 7:51 AM
Man, i've just read it and it's one of the crapiest things of the year!

Everything i hated in volume one is doubled here - the skinny-emo-Bieberesque Clark Kent, the red diapers, the insecurity, the adolescent type....

The new characters don't show their importance, the subplots are extremely week, the Parasite version is the worst created in DC universe, and the Luthors are... Well, here, Straczinsky exceeded his mediocrity!

DukeAcureds - 11/4/2012, 2:49 PM
Ancar@ I don't trust a reviewer who refers to JMS as mediocre.
AnalPrickly@ Your review seems honest and balanced, so I'll trust yours. It won't be as good as the first, but if the third volume is good then V2 serves it's purpose, right?
People really ran with the whole emo thing on V1, didn't they? I'm pretty sure it was all due to that cover. Superman in a hoodie? Emo. But once you get past the cover, you see there is no real reason to continue with the emo assumptions. People who stil see it as an emo take on Superman (^ ^) see what they want to see.
I think you're probably right about the Smallville elements, though. When a comics line is published with the intention of not being encumbered by continuity, the writer seems to assume that this means no history. There's a big difference betwen streamlining the convolutions of continuity and having our characters born yesterday. I think Smallville is essential and I'm glad to hear that it is at least touched upon in this volume and that Luthor and Kent may share a history together.
The same goes for Batman and the upcoming Wonder Woman. I think it's essential that Batman get some training. I know that it is going for realism in it's take on Batman, more Year One than Nolan, but I think Bruce couldget himself some realistic training. In fact I would think it unrealistic if a billionaire with all that money and power would not set about finding the best people to train him on the face of the planet and travelling the world in order for them to train him exclusively. It is also unrealistic that Alfred would allow him to continue as Batman without using his contacts to help "Build a better Batman", so that Bruce would be beter and more properly prepared. A realistic take on Ra's Al Ghul, Talia and perhaps even Bane would not go amiss, here.
And I'm really hoping that Grant Morrison doesn't fall into the trap of reinventing Wonder Woman. I know he wants to stay true to original vision of Moulton-Marston, so I'm hoping he keeps the World War II elements intact, if not flat out make the book period. After all, Captain America was nearly revamped as being a modern day soldier, in The Ultimates, but thankfully, they realised that in streamlining they should not pretend that there is no such thing as history. So often the baby is thrown out with the bathwater, here. Also, it has never been done is seems blatent to me, but WW first foe is usually Ares and she is known to the world at large as a WWII superhero (mostly because of the Linda Carter show and her Golden Age comics) and Ares is the god of war. It's an obvious correlation that I hope Grant Morrison is learned enough to see.
Congrats on your part in the casting of Cavill, btw.
Ancar - 11/4/2012, 5:04 PM
First, I've written no review.

Second, I consider JMS one of the best comic writers of the past ten years - I love what he did in the first volume of Rising Stars, in Spider-Man (unless that twins saga, obviously) and Thor, but he has some negative points with Supes, starting with that shitty Grounded season.

And in Superman Earth One he embrace these negative points - it seems to me that he wrote that thinking in other things.

And to end the conversation, Batman Earth One was light-years better, proving that Geoff Johns is the best comic writer of today!!!
Ancar - 11/5/2012, 6:01 AM
earzmundo, you're right about Grounded be a good idea, but the result was very poor - and the ending worse.

I'd love to say that I liked Superman Earth One, but I can't. To me, there's everything wrong about the character there.

And about Jonhs, his Justice League title is to me a fresh and uncomplicated reading. The comic book that unite the DC champions for one straight mission and only.

The more elaborated plots stay on the characters books, i think.

About the other writers, Snyder was a great and pleasant surprise on Batman, Morrisson is awesome on Action Comics, and Jeff Lemire really impressed me on Animal Man - one of my favorites!!!
JM4Superman - 11/10/2012, 7:01 AM
I actually enjoyed the book, can't wait for vol.3
DukeAcureds - 11/11/2012, 12:40 PM
Just read it. SO good. Your review was very accurate. I'm liking the Katana and Shiva ideas. I always liked how she retrained Bruce at the beginning of Knightsend. But I don't think it's too late for Ra's. Begins is obviously a classic, now and they may as well acknowledge it in this iteration of the comics instead of waiting until the next generation's Earth One.

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