Graphic Novel Review: Superman: Earth One

(Titan Books, �14.99)

LIKE the legends of old, the origin of Superman has become its own myth cycle, destined to be repeated and reimagined by successive generations, each seeking their own interpretation of the tale of the Last Son of Krypton…

From his earliest roots as the product of Jewish teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster living in pre-war America, through his big screen debut in Richard Donner’s blockbuster, taking in John Byrne’s humanised 1980s reboot, through recent comic revamps by Mark Waid and Geoff Johns and on TV in the long-running smash Smallville, the essence of the story has remained the same.

Now Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski has joined forces with artist Shane Davis to spin a new version of the iconic saga, offering a contemporary view over traditional elements like the Daily Planet, Jonathan and Martha Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, somehow making the familiar seem fresh again.

As the young Clark Kent seeks his path in the world, whether it be in sports, science, finance or media, he is forced to come to terms with his own roots as a strange visitor from another planet when an armada of alien battleships attack the Earth in search of Krypton’s only survivor.

Donning the familiar red, yellow and blue costume for the first time, he accepts his destiny as humanity’s greatest champion will cost him his own true identity, hidden behind the thick-rimmed glasses and bumbling persona which Clark Kent is forced to become.

This stand-alone graphic novel, the first in a series of books featuring DC Comics icons unshackled by years of continuity, is an entertaining and easily accessible introduction to the Man of Steel.

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Kudos to JMS for avoiding the obvious temptations of a familiar threat like Luthor, Brainiac or General Zod for this initial story, but unfortunately intergalactic bounty hunter Tyrell is somewhat lacking in depth of character and development. That said, this is probably the only criticism of what is a remarkable reimagining of the Superman mythology which revitalises the character’s history while never forgetting what makes him special.