Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Superman: Year One #1 Review

Writer: Frank Miller
Art Team: John Romita Jr
DC Comics Black Label
Release Date: June 19, 2019
Cover Price: $7.99

Smallville Uncut - SPOILER FREE

The DC Black Label is starting to pick up steam on the release schedule and thankfully so. I don't know about anyone else, but these 'elseworlds' DC books are where I've made my home lately, as far as dollars spent go, because frankly I have no trust in many of the creatives or management at DC to provide a cohesive story otherwise. New 52, DC You, DC Rebirth, and a '100 issue on-goings' have tested my patience, with little to no payoff, and this is where it's led me, to the one or two books released monthly on the Black Label, and a few crossovers here and there featuring other properties.  So what does the latest Black Label title, Superman: Year One, have in store? Lets discuss.

The issue begins a little slowly with the typical Kryptonian origin story for Clark Kent. There's Krypton blowing up, some obligatory space traveling in a ship headed for Earth, then yes, Clark is ultimately found in a field by Jon Kent, and taken home to be raised as his son, with the loving help of his wife Martha. "MARTHA!!!!!" Sorry I had to.  Not much varies off the beaten path from a typical Superman origin at this point, but things quickly pick up, and even Romita Jr's art is a great compliment to the wholesome beginnings of the story in Smallville, here in the series debut.

It's not really until Clark starts hitting high school, that the story starts to pick up steam, and in my opinion become something pretty special.  Being a Frank Miller book, and looking back at things like the Dark Knight, you expect this title to have more of an edge to it, and while I was waiting for it in the beginning, it never actually showed up. When I stopped expecting that grit to pop up and surprise me I got really into what was occurring here on the pages.

Mr. Kent does a fabulous job in the beginning of the issue realizing his son's strength and gifts, then coaching him to control the situations he's put in because of that, to genuinely become a great human being. I found it a joy to read and watch Clark put those lessons into action, in his own way of course, while dealing with the different situations he's thrust into throughout the book.  Miller shows a subtlety I never knew he had here and it's impressive.

Clark goes through high school and he deals with some of the same 'cliche' situations a lot of us deal with, or have experienced in life, in some form or fashion. Bullying, friends, first loves.  However, while I'm sure some reviewers will knock this for "the book being cliche itself", I find it interesting to see how the young man with infinite power attempts to solve these situations, while still being true to his family, yet in the back of his mind wanting to use his power to stomp it out once and for all. Sure its  Frank Miller after all, you expect this book to broach that territory once at least, but I think again that's why I enjoyed it so much. It's Frank Miller doing something different, almost a little like Superman is doing here in the title, when other 15 - 16 year old boys would use the gifts they were given maybe in other ways. Throwing the bully into the sun maybe?!

The scenes featuring Lana and Clark are also genuinely touching and moving, which lead to the climax of the issue eventually , and it's tough to not fight back some feelings, while being excited for what young Clark is about to experience, and also being pumped to see where this title goes from here. I also have to give credit to John Romita Jr here, while I'm normally not a huge fan of his, he does a great job of bringing a classic looking Smallville to life.  Admittedly my only real complaint here is that Clark has a massive baby head, other than that, all characters, panels, and backgrounds look great and only aid to the storytelling at hand.

Overall, Superman: Year One, is an interesting look at the beginnings of what formed a young Clark Kent into the eventual Superman he would become, and its an utter joy to read about and see unfold on the page. A little like a Superman Breakfast Club with a twist. Miller takes a very different approach to this title than I ever expected from him, bringing some genuinely touching moments to the page, that anyone having gone through similar situations either now, or in the past, can really relate to.  Romita is great on art duties too making this another Black Label title to come back too and check out for issue two.


1 comment:

  1. I am going to to take a look, thanks for the review, very well written.