Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Superman: Earth One Volume 2 Review

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Shane Davis

My Superman buzz continues, as after seeing Man of Steel I've decided to go through some of my favourite Superman stories again, as well as trying to obtain some that I've not yet read. Anyway whilst re-reading Superman: Earth One Volume One (reviewed here) I decided to buy this, the second volume, and have been excited about reading it, as I loved the first volume.


Clark continues his life as a reporter for the Daily Planet, moving into a new apartment, where he meet's a beautiful young woman named Lisa Lasalle. Life isn't all roses for Clark, as his other life as Superman gets in the way with a Tsunami hitting the Island Borada, and the emergence of a new enemy dubbed Parasite.


This was yet another amazing book, and although there isn't much between this book, and the first, this one came very close to being the best of the two. J. Michael Straczynski continued to show that he could make awesome Superman stories, and although he disappointed me with Grounded, he has since made up for that with these two graphic novels. What I loved most about Straczynski's writing was that although he continued to amaze with some awesome action, he also continued to delve more into the character developments, giving more depth, and feel to the character's. Straczynski also introduced some new character's, and developed the start of a relationship for Clark which was nice, and although I'll go into more depth later on in my review on this subject, I felt it was worth stating how this shows Straczynski's skill as a writer, and how he plans ahead, without them plans having to necessarily take effect. The emotion, and symbolism that Straczynski put into this story was also brilliant, and I loved how he made this story feel so different from the first just by having a different pace, and speed to the story, which was wonderful. There was however one small thing that made this story not quite as good as it could have been, and that was the fact that the story really slowed down in the last 30 pages, and if it wasn't for that this story would have been better than the first. Straczynski did however leave us with some teasers for the future, and I seriously can't wait to see them developed in a third volume.

The art in this story was phenomenal, and Shane Davis once again produced some of the finest Superman artwork that I've ever seen, as although there are better Superman artists, Davis' art isn't far behind. The detail in Davis' art is simply outstanding, and although there were some rough, and imperfect details, most notably in a couple of panels on the first page, most of the art was perfect, and felt very dynamic. He also once again did an amazing job of drawing both Superman, and Clark, as well as the other character's that featured in the first volume. Davis did however also draw some fabulous new character's including Clark's new flatmate, Lisa Lasalle, who looked beautiful, and the new villain Parasite. Talking of Davis' art on Parasite I have to say when the character first turned into Parasite I wasn't too sure if I loved the new look for the classic character, but after seeing him in action, as well as getting bigger I loved it, and I especially loved the organic energy-receptor's, which made his abilities feel more natural, and modern. Davis also once again gave some amazing action during this story, especially when it came to Parasite, and the fights between Superman, and Parasite in this story made the spectacular fight Superman had with Tyrell in volume one look small. Besides all these great points, Davis also showed the character's emotions well, especially between Clark, and Lisa, and overall this added more depth, and drama to the story.

Near the start of this story we see Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen talking about Clark, and how Lois feels that there's something not right about him. This would lead in Lois obsessing over Clark, wanting to know more about him, without Clark knowing this. Overall this was a brilliant addition to this story, and I loved that it didn't just kick off right near the start of the book, but that it wasn't in your face, and felt like the side story that it is. It was also nice to see Lois' intuition's come in early in the overall Earth One story, and how she already has a feeling that there's more to Clark than meets the eye. As to whether this is due to jealousy (over him getting the Superman interview), or whether it is her reporters intuition, it made for an interesting side story, and I hope it continues through any possible sequel books.

As I said earlier we got a new character introduced in this story in the form of Lisa Lasalle, who made short work of trying to start a relationship with Clark. Some of people say that Lisa is Earth One's version of Lana Lang, and although I can see similarities, I have to disagree. Lisa to me is a much different type of character, and the only real thing her, and Lana have in common is that they are love interests of Clark. As for her characteristics, I loved how she was a strong headed woman, and not afraid to show how she feels. I also loved how she acted sexy, as although this can sometimes be over the top (as it is in Catwoman), Straczynski handles this well, treating it as a playful tease for Clark, which adds more drama, and suspense. The chemistry between Clark, and Lisa was also brilliant, as although they both had different personalities, like Clark, Lisa seemed like a good person, and the way they interacted was just golden, and although I still feel that the Clark/Lois relationship is the relationship that defines Superman, it's nice to see him with someone else in his earlier days, and I hope Lisa stays for a while longer.

During his first date with Lisa, Clark had to go off and be Superman to help out people caught in a Tsunami on the Island of Borada. Superman is however stopped in his tracks by the leader of this Island, General Samsa, and is forced to leave. Now this is the first time in Earth One that we see Superman try to help a foreign country, and get involved in politics. I found this an interesting addition, as he stated in his interview with Clark that he'd not get involved in politics, whereas he's placed in a positions where he politics stop him from helping the innocent. This also gave Superman his first dilemma, and the way Straczynski let it play out was brilliant, and very interesting, showing the development of his character, as a hero.

There was naturally a new villain in this story, and this time Straczynski went for a classic villain in the form of Parasite. Now I've never been the biggest Parasite fan, but he was nothing short of awesome in this story, and both Straczynski's writing of the character, and Davis' art was perfect. There was two things I loved most about Parasite this time round, and that was that he had a decent, and deep backstory, and that he was a serious threat to Superman. I'll start with his backstory, which I loved, as never having the chance to read the original backstory for Parasite, it was nice to see it in this story. I also liked how it showed him as a murderer, who had a troubled life growing up, and that he only thought of one other person bar himself (his sister, Theresa). Now onto the other reason I loved this Parasite, and that was the fact he was a serious threat to Superman. Most recent stories I've read involving Parasite have Superman beating him easy, whereas with his powers that shouldn't be the case. I also loved how this type of villain was added so soon, showing that Superman can be weakened, and that he can't win everything with raw strength.

The military return in this story, continuing their role from the last volume, with Major Sandra Lee continuing her research into Superman. This time instead of examining the spaceship that he arrived in (which is now in the Arctic, and acting as his Fortress of Solitude), Sandra's working on finding a way of stopping Superman if necessary, as well as trying to find out how to kill him. It was obvious that she wasn't going to give up hunting Superman, and it was obvious that she'd try to find a way of neutralising him at any cost, so it was nice to see that in this story. I did however once again love that like the Lois angle that this didn't take up a great deal of time, and acted like the side story that it is, and the teasers for the future of this side story are very interesting, and I look forward to seeing it developed.

Final Verdict

This story was awesome, and it's hard to tell what's better between this, and Volume One, but this story was very close to being better than Volume One. Straczynski, and Davis continue to give us excitement, and emotion, as we have more fabulous action, as well as great character development. Clark also gets a love interest which was nice, and the villain Parasite was handled perfectly, being a real threat to Superman, like he should be. Due to all this as well as other teasers I would highly recommend this to anyone, and although you can read this without reading Volume One I'd recommend reading that also, and I hope Straczynski, and Davis continues to make these wonderful graphic novels.

Rating: 5/5