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
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