After the fantastic Batman Earth One, I was very excited for Superman Earth One Vol. 2. The first volume wasn’t that great, but it got the job done. Vol. 2 fares a little better, but the same problems from the first volume persist.
J. Michael Straczynski is the reason I started reading comics. His Amazing Spider-Man run made me read comics monthly. So it saddens me when he writes something like this. It has moments of brilliance, but also shows laziness. As with Vol. 1, Vol. 2 suffers from a poorly developed villain. Parasite is a classic Superman villain, but is treated as a throwaway here. Some last minute development is attempted, but it rings hollow. After two volumes of Earth One, I feel like this is the first thing that needs to be addressed. The first one sold like hotcakes, so no doubt this one will too. That means we will be getting a Vol. 3 at some point. JMS, fix the villain problem, and we will have a much better graphic novel.
The side characters could use some work as well. Lisa gives Clark someone other than Lois Lane to talk too, which is always nice. But she seems to be feisty for the hell of it. There is no reason for her to be this way other than to work into the jokes that JMS has written in. The jokes are quite funny, but would have been even funnier if we had some better backstory for her. Lois Lane does the normal “I can’t connect the dots and figure out that Clark is Superman.” At this point in Superman’s history, ANY reader is going to put the dots together before Lois. We have to remember that super people are new to this world, so she might not see what we see.
But JMS does some great things with Superman here. His handling of international relations was fantastic to read. It brings up a lot of questions about scenarios, and I want to see JMS write these. Hopefully these will be tackled in future volumes. Maybe have a volume where Superman has to think slightly more than punch, and make his punches count that much more. I’d buy that, and probably enjoy it a lot more. The Furball conversation was very touching. As mentioned before, there are some good jokes. The sex talk between Pa Kent and Clark had me laughing out loud. Thankfully I had just seen Rocky Horror Picture Show before reading this, so I got the few jokes from that. As for the future, I love the way that Lex Luthor was developed. A man like this wouldn’t come out of the woodwork right away. He’d only appear when the challenge was great enough.
Shane Davis’ artwork is a little more hit or miss than Vol. 1. He nails the conversation scenes, but has trouble with the heavy action parts. Many of the action panels seem slightly stunted, lacking the kinetic action that these scenes need. But he nails the action scenes when the absolutely count. When Superman is imagining revenge on the dictator, the look in his eyes is terrifying. The “what the hell do I do now?” look on his face when realizing he was out played by the dictator got my comic reader brain excited. It helped sell the dialogue. My idea about having the next volume be more focused on tactical thinking and less punching would help Davis quite a bit. But where the majority of this issue is conversation, the good out weighs the bad.
Superman Earth One Vol. 2 is a frustrating read. It could have been a lot better, as it shows quite a few moments of brilliance. The few moments of brilliance will be what keeps me interested w