Volume 2 of Superman Earth One, click the the jump to read more.
Superman Earth One Vol. 2
Written by J. Michaels Straczynski
Art by Shane Davis
Published by DC Comics
If you have ever heard Bob Dylan’s song, “It’s alright, Ma (I’m only bleeding)” I recommend you listen to this song before reading Superman Earth One Vol. 2, or listen to the song on repeat as you read this graphic novel. Some of the references in this song really relates to the situations that J. Michaels Straczynski puts Clark Kent in. Straczynski continues the theme of alienation that Clark feels from volume 1. This time, Straczynski adds a few more elements to the theme of alienation like vulnerability and fragility and really shows the reader how Superman is affecting the people around him. These elements revolve around the central theme of what life is like in this universe for Superman. Superman grows as a hero, but there are mishaps along the way that add to his growth as a character.
Synopsis: Superman becomes the hero to talk about in Metropolis where people adore him as well as find him a threat. What kind of affect does Superman have on the people of Metropolis and how does this affect Clark Kent as a person?
Good: From the beginning, Straczynski establishes the afore mentioned themes of fragility, vulnerability, and the kind of affect Superman has on people, all of which Clark has a problem with personally. As a continued story from volume 1, Straczynski uses Clark’s outside looking in perspective to show how extremely alienated the character is from the world around him. If you’re listening to Bob Dylan’s song as suggested, you can immediately relate the lyrics to Clark’s perspective on how he views the world; Clark sees the world as being a helpless one where Superman is needed to help those who can’t help themselves. The fact that there are millions of people around the world who are ‘helpless’ places Clark in a position where he only sees the big picture, but Superman is only able help people in physical and ultimate danger. This is where Bob Dylan’s song comes into play, where Clark’s outsider view of the world is only on a physical level and he only sees human beings as being vulnerable and fragile physically. What Clark does not see is that Superman affects people mentally. People begin to believe that Superman can save them from anything, even from their own self-destruction. Straczynki makes a powerful statement about the character when Clark who is unaware of a neighbour who overdoses, sees that this particular person was one of the few ‘helpless’ people he or Superman could save. Clark is forced to think about how his alter ego affects people and this adds to Clark’s growth as a superhero.
What is truly enjoyable about Straczynski is that he has revamped Superman for modern times, where situations are not as clean cut as they’re supposed to be and he puts Clark in situations where the character flourishes as likeable and relatable for audiences; Clark without Superman is now such a relatable character that it seems as though any human can be a Superman without powers. For example, an outsider who finds themselves outside of the norm, might find this version of Superman more appealing to read about because Clark Kent is more like them.
Volume 2 continues the theme of alienation. Showing Clark as an outsider who can slowly integrate into society; You see how much he wants to be normal, but he knows that one some level he cannot fully be human. Clark also discovers what is acceptable for him to feel ‘normal’. It’s a slow process for him but he learns how to adjust while becoming a little more open with the people around him.
Artist Shane Davis, does an amazing job illustrating the story in this volume and is the kind of artist who likes to focus on character dialogue. The best example this in Davis’ work is when Clark is having a little dinner date with one of his neighbuors. The story is dialogue driven throughout this volume and Davis is sensitive to this in the art. Truth be told, Clark’s character is even more likeable with Davis’ help in the art department, for example showing Clark as vulnerable and unsure of himself with an attractive woman. It makes readers realize that Clark is not as charming as he was once perceived that he is actually like everyone else who struggles to connect with other people on an intimate level.
Bad: Even though, Davis’ artwork does well with the characters in dialogue, he does not do so well with action scenes. A specific example of this is when Parasite, (new short term foe) is fighting Superman. There are panels where it looks like Davis tries to improve the fighting scenes with close-ups like this one of with Parasite draining Superman’s powers. However, it does not create much excitement or suspense as the panels where you can see quicker, faster paced fight scenes.
This is by far one of the best portrayals of Superman for new readers and for those who enjoy Superman. He is more relatable and likeable as character with flaws; As a superhero, he is learning how to use his powers and how he affects people. Straczynski is allowing the character room for improvement, which makes readers appreciate his writing of the character.
What did you think of Superman Earth One Vol. 2? Are you reading this issue? Why or why not?
More images from this issue below.