Up, Up and Away: Jason’s Comic Reviews
Welcome back to my ever-evolving comic reviews. Each week I will review a few new releases you may have missed on new comic Wednesday. As things change, mostly my mood, so will this column. Some weeks may be several new comics from various publishers or sometimes just one. There might be a time when it’s a longer review for a book I’m really excited about, and every now and then I may throw in a review of a retro book from years past. You never know!
This week it’s yet another retelling of the Last Son of Krypton’s origin.
- Written by Frank Miller
- Art by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.
It’s time for another take on the man of steel’s origin. This time courtesy of legendary creators Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. The story starts off as you might expect, Krypton in it’s last few minutes. Jor-El and his wife race to send their new born son to safety in Jor-el’s newly built rocket. As the planet erupts, baby Kal-El is on his way somewhere. We see part of the space journey through the eyes of Kal. He eventually lands on earth as not quite an infant. He’s discovered by Kansas farmer, Jonathan Kent, who promptly presents the child to his religious wife, Martha. As you can guess, the couple welcomes the space baby into their family.
Kal, now named Clark, grows up and is slowly learning he’s quite different from the rest of the folks from Earth. This chapter focuses on Clark’s time in high school. Clark is friends with the outcasts. He does his best to help them but constantly run afoul of a gang of particularly nasty bullies. This group is particularly cruel in their tactics usually resorting to violence. The teachers for whatever reason, are scared of the bullies and rarely take action. Young Clark must decide what’s his best approach. Clearly, he can take care of them but will it make matters worse? His first attempt does not gain the desired effect, as the gang escalates their terror. An attempted assault on Clark’s potential love interest, provoke Clark to do things his way once and for all. As his eye school years start to end, Clark decides that it’s time for him to see the world he’s destined to help, by joining the Navy!
Most of you know Frank Miller from his famous works such as Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns, and Sin City. This book falls short of the previous works mentioned. There are some interesting concepts he attempts to explore but initially, we get a slightly different perspective on a well-tread story. The story loses a bit with the narration. It’s somewhat bizarre and almost took me out of the story. I suppose the narration is from an unseen narrator but attempting to talk like Clark. The narration almost begins like it’s from the mind of an infant, with just one-word sentences. As Clark ages, so does the dialogue. The actual character dialogue is also suspect. Ma and Pa Kent come across as very simple country folk. Each line has a very folksy feel but never feels genuine. Miller exceeds when he introduces the first challenge with the school bullies. Clark is really thrust into a situation of “should I or shouldn’t I?” It’s something we’ve seen before but the stakes seem higher with the portrayal of how vicious these kids are. However, this arc is wrapped up and we never hear from the bullies again. Instead, we see Clark excelling in sports. The ending with Clark joining the Navy is a twist and could provide for an interesting story.
The art by Romita Jr is some of his best I’ve seen in a few years. The inking and color really help to make the pages look vibrant. There are not any spectacular action scenes here. However, everything is easy to follow. You could easily follow the story even if there were no dialogue. His take helps you get some of the more intimate parts of the narrative where the dialogue fails. Now this will not blow you away by any means, but it is solid work that helps elevate an otherwise “been there, done that” story.
The Black Label is DC’s new imprint bringing readers the characters they know and love in a mature format. The previous offerings: Batman Damned and Batman: Last Knight on Earth are definitely R rated books. Superman: Year One is in the PG-13 range, so far. Superman does not particularly scream R rated to me. While the actions of the bullies verge on being graphic, there’s nothing shown that would be considered offensive. It gets close with a very uncomfortable scene involving Lana but again. Fortunately, Clark shows up just in time. It’s also implied that Clark and Lana spend the night before he leaves, but that could be left to the audience.
There’s a few interesting twists and takes within Superman: Year One that could lead to fun issues in the future. However, there’s plenty we’ve seen before which might be boring to fans. Also being under the Black Label, fans may be disappointed that this issue isn’t as gritty and dark as previous titles under the imprint.
I’ll be back with a new crop of reviews. For more comic reviews, insight, and commentary on comics old and new check out the Drawn & Paneled podcast wherever you get podcasts!