Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Man, they gotta mess with everything...

Most of the buzz on Superman these days is the recently announced Christopher Nolan-produced David Goyer-written, Zack Snyder-directed tentpole flick, set during Big Blue's "early days" where young reporter Clark Kent walks the Earth to see where he fits in.

This week, though, DC Comics will release "Superman: Earth One," a new graphic novel not related to the upcoming film. That said, it will give new insight into Clark Kent’s transformation into Superman and his first year as The Man of Steel.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, best known as the creator/writer of "Babylon 5," and the screenwriter of Clint Eastwood’s "Changeling" and James McTeigue’s "Ninja Assassin," he has also written for "He-Man," "She-Ra," "The Twilight Zone," "The Real Ghost Busters," and "Murder She Wrote." So there's a pedigree here. In fact, Straczynski wrote the first screenwriting book I ever owned.

Interestingly, however, this new book is the first in a new wave of original DC Universe graphic novels featuring top writers’ and illustrators’ unique takes on their characters much like Marvel's Ultimate Universe.

But is that good? Do we mess with what's isn't necessarily broken? Unlike Marvel's take on their iconic heroes, it seems that DC is radically altering their mythos.

Maybe it's me but I want my Superman to ...well, look like a man... receding hairline and all (see Chrisphor Reeve, below). I want him to look mature, not like a kid who should have a skateboard scooped under his arm with Green Day on his iPod.

Wikipedia says that Straczymski wanted to retell the beginnings of Clark Kent coming out as Superman, but bring in the thoughts of what-if Clark thought of becoming something else instead of being a superhero. As JMS stated; "he could have been rich as an athlete, researcher, any number of things.

There’s a flashback scene to when Martha Kent finishes his uniform and gives it to him as a gift, hoping he’ll go that way. He looks at it and says, in essence, “Shouldn’t there be a mask?" She says no, that "when people see how powerful you are, all the things you can do, they’re going to be terrified... unless they can see your face, and see there that you mean them no harm. The mask... is that what you’re going to have to wear the rest of your life?"

Among his ideas; the villain featured will be brand new, and have a connection to Krypton to explain its destruction. Artist Shane Davis’s approach was to remove all the stereotypes associate with the design of Clark Kent, both in his civilian and superhero identities. As a 21 year-old male in the book, Davis had Clark wear layers of clothing, showing that he is trying to blend in; “he doesn’t want to stand out” as said by Davis. He also re-imagined Metropolis. Historically depicted as an art-deco expanse, Davis designed it to look and feel like a more realistic place.

From the flap: This is a Superman for the 21st century. With "Superman: Earth One," Straczynski and Davis inject the folk tale and legend that is Superman’s origin with a modern, vital and forward-looking energy that makes for a refreshing, epic and challenging super-hero adventure. In "Superman: Earth One" – the first original graphic novel retelling Superman’s origin — Clark Kent is a man looking for meaning in a new city and an age of failing newspapers, hand-held devices and instant gratification. But when you can fly through the sky and burn objects with a glance – things become a tad more complicated. Doubly so when a fleet of alien ships arrive on your doorstep. "Superman: Earth One" channels the best tales of Superman with a look toward the future, by two of the brightest talents the industry has to offer.

The new 136-page hardcover graphic novel will be released in comic shops tomorrow and bookstores the next Tuesday.


  1. Interesting post, Anthony. I'm of the opinion as well, that if it's not broke it don't need fixing. Why do they have to do it. Supe's is Supe's. Don't mess with it.

    Nice one, mate.

  2. I don't know what to think about this. I have always been a closet comic book geek (hey, i had to keep SOMEthing in the closet), and Superman was always a favourite of mine. I don't know that I really need all the backstory and process of becoming Superman. He just was Superman and that was good enough for me. A lot of writers have done this in recent years with a lot of icons from my childhood (horror movies, in particular) and for me, it destroys some of the magic. Jury's still out on this one. Will just have to wait and see.

  3. I don't mind reinvention, really. What matters is what kind of reinvention, not that there is one.

    If nothing changed we would still be stuck with Superman of the thirties...

    I look forward to both the movie and the comic.

  4. I'm keenly interested in Earth One and want to read it. Straczynski has done some fabulous interpretations of other characters (he wrote a Thor I'd actually want to see a movie about). And we live in a culture that is in several ways miserably secular, without nearly enough vital myths. Superheroes are one of our sources of mythology. One of the great utilities of mythology is to be reinterpreted and re-cast, to help us reach those hard to touch, hard to articulate spots. While the superheroes belong to creators and companies, those individuals often license these out to other storytellers. Superman has changed many times, as has his supporting cast. Lex Luthor was once a scientist, then a millionaire, then a billionaire, then president, and now is an armored fugitive. But projects like Earth One are healthier, because they do not fuss with continuity or hijack legitimate character development in on-going series. This one is an interpretation, a remake. It's not the real thing, doesn't pretend to be, and if it stinks, can be discarded. I agree that remake culture can get ridiculous and unimaginative, though I certainly give Straczynski some leeway as he's also writing original comics and works at the same time that he's doing this.

  5. "If it ain't broke" - If it bothers you then don't read it. If you don't want all the "backstory" once again don't read it-you silly rabbit


  6. I love JMS, so I'm excited he's doing this. That said, I like SuperMAN too, which is why I've never seen Smallville. So I guess it could go either way.


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