Comic Publishers

December 28, 2010

DC Comics Reviews: Superman: Earth One

For years DC fans have wondered when DC would launch their own line of titles reimagining their heroes for the modern era, without the constraints of years’ worth of continuity, similar to Marvel’s Ultimate line. Well, “Ultimate DC” is here, and it begins with the first original graphic novel in the DC: Earth One series, Superman: Earth One.

Superman: Earth One

Publisher: DC Comics
J. Michael Straczynski
Shane Davis
Shane Davis

**WARNING! Minor spoilers ahead!**

As you might expect, Superman: Earth One is another story telling the legendary tale of Clark Kent’s journey to becoming the Man of Steel. But that’s where any preconceived notions about this title should end. The story strays far away from anything you would expect from your typical Superman origin story. Earlier this year, DC published the mini-series Superman: Secret Origins, capturing the classic early beginning of Superman, complete with the Christopher Reeve-like clumsiness and goofy smile everyone knows from Clark Kent, and the boy scout attitude of Big Blue. Superman: Earth One, however, abandons any and all gee-whiz qualities Superman has been recognized with.

J. Michael Straczynski’s new version of Superman is much darker than what we’re used to seeing in a Superman story, let alone an origin story. One thing I noticed halfway through the book was that not once had Clark Kent cracked a single smile. As a Superman fan, that bothered me, and that’s when I realized this isn’t just an old Superman for a new generation, this is just something new. During the first few pages of getting to know Clark, we see him earn a contract to a major football team, solve an impossible scientific equation, and a few other great feats a man with his powers would have no trouble with, but the last thing he has any interest in is being a superhero. But even though Clark has zero desire to dawn tights and a cape, his intentions, and core good instilled within him as a child by the Kent’s, still remain. Though when an alien with a David Bowie fashion sense and a serious vendetta against Krypton invades Earth, Clark has no choice but to finally man up.

For a graphic novel, this is no doubt an interesting Superman reimagining, but I would much rather have seen this broken up into a series. The pace of the book feels rushed at times, and I wish we could have spent more time with Clark instead of Clark’s memories of his deceased father. Artistically, Superman: Earth One is fantastic. Shane Davis’s style is perfect for the story, and the way he draws his Clark Kent as a young man instead of a muscly, square jawed superhero really helps you believe that this is a totally new character.

Will Superman: Earth One change the minds of Superman’s detractors as the invisible, all powerful, do-no-wrong boy scout? I’m not sure. But if the classic interpretation of Superman just doesn’t work for you, this Superman may be more up your alley. DC: Earth One is off to a good start, but it may be next year’s Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank that will tell if this line of titles will last.

Andrew Hurst



  1. I’m still on the fence about this one. The first time I heard about this book and read the synopsis it sounded more like a dark version of Smallville which didn’t impress me at all.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nancy North and Chris Jones. Chris Jones said: DC Comics Reviews: Superman: Earth One: As you might expect, Superman: Earth One is another story telling the le… […]

  3. I didn’t really like this book too much. The art was great but the story was meh. The clark from this story seemed more like a teen marvel book character than Superman.

  4. I heard all the hype about this book and I don’t think it really lived up to all of it. Personally, I liked the darker brooding Clark. (But that’s pretty much because I can’t stand the Boy Scout that Superman is.) However, I didn’t find the actual story to be all that riveting.
    I think the best part about this book was the art. I don’t usually notice colors, but I thought the colors was fantastic in this book.

  5. Chrysta

    I enjoyed the art and the story very much. I love Superman and don’t really mind a bit of experimentation with the character. I think its true, as was pointed out in the Superman documentary “Look Up in the Sky: The Story of Superman”, that the character had periods of becoming irrelevant to modern society and had to be reimagined to survive. That must be done from time to time or he will become irrelevant.

    I do love Chris Reeves but I have to say that the goofy Clark Kent was not as amusing to me as to some people, (though I did see it explained in the Superman Wedding Album issue ( that Clark isn’t clumsy, he just doesn’t know his own strength, which makes sense. Still, I think I like the more serious, so-called brooding Clark better, as does my teen-age daughter. She is a big Superman fan, too, but the idea of a young person struggling between a sense of responsibility and a desire to do their own thing and be their own person is a classic problem most of us go through (some never outgrow) and I think it does make this story very relevant and accessible for the younger audience. It makes it easier to relate to him as a person and not just sit back as an observer of a man with super-human powers.

    The book is also very beautiful to look at. The glossy pages, the hard cover, the art, the color………………. I felt this book was worth the money. I do agree, I’d have liked it more had it been fleshed out a little more, but its not a bad book as it is now.

  6. Chrysta wins the comment of the year award!

  7. Fattie Acid

    This Comic is what I call Bruce Wayne Meets Clark Kent

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