Thursday, January 23, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: SUPERMAN: Year One #3

DC COMICS/DC Black Label – @DCComics

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Frank Miller
PENCILS: John Romita, Jr.
INKS: Danny Miki
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: John Workman
EDITOR: Mark Doyle
COVER: John Romita, Jr. and Danny Miki with Alex Sinclair
VARIANT COVER: Frank Miller with Alex Sinclair
64pp, Color, $7.99 U.S. (December 2019)

Mature Readers

Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Book Three

Superman: Year One is a three-issue comic book miniseries written by Frank Miller and drawn by John Romita, Jr.  It is being published in an over-sized softcover format (8 1/2 x 10 7/8) and is part of DC Comics' prestige “DC Black Label” imprint.  Superman: Year One is a retelling of the early life of Clark Kent and of his first year as the superhero, Superman.  The rest of the creative team includes inker Danny Miki, colorist Alex Sinclair, and letterer John Workman.

Superman: Year One recounts how the baby, Kal-El, rockets from the doomed planet, Krypton.  The rockets carries him to Earth, where it crash lands in the bucolic grain fields of Smallville, Kansas.  Kal-El is rescued by a childless couple, Martha and Jonathan Kent, who adopt him and name him, Clark Kent.  After graduating high school, Clark joins the United States Navy and is stationed at the Naval Station at Great Lakes, Illinois.

The rays of the yellow sun around which Earth orbits has made Clark strong and powerful beyond human imagination.  Even holding back, Clark quickly sets himself apart from the other Navy recruits.  A superior officer notices Clark's abilities, which leads to Clark being discharged from the Navy.  Clark has an extensive adventure in and around the underwater city of Atlantis and also dons the familiar costume that he will wear as the superhero, Superman.

As Superman: Year One #3 opens, “the Superman” rescues reporter Lois Lane and fends off an attack by what is apparently U.S. military special forces.  Clark enrolls at Kansas State University where he studies journalism.  Then, he takes his degree to the “city of tomorrow,” Metropolis, and gets a job at its most famous daily newspaper, The Daily Planet, where Lois Lane works.

Clark proves to be a more than capable reporter, but his life in Metropolis will encompass more than journalism.  Metropolis will discover that it has a savior, of sorts, a hero they call “Superman.”  Metropolis' most infamous citizen, Lex Luthor, takes notice and makes his move to control this new hero.  Meanwhile, over in Gotham City, this crime-ridden city's own hero... or vigilante, “the Batman,” is also watching the Superman of Metropolis.

At some point, DC Comics publicly stated that Superman: Year One would now be Superman's official origin story.  I think Frank Miller, Superman: Year One's writer, said that this comic book is set in the universe of his seminal comic book miniseries, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Superman: Year One is certainly a strange new origin story.  Miller's story and script are off-beat and take weird turns on previously established Superman “mythology.”  Superman: Year One #3 is filled with so much over-the-top, hackneyed dialogue, the kind editors would not accept from comic book writers who are not “fanboy gods” or who are not celebrity or celebrated creators.  Honestly, I don't know what to make of Miller's story or script.  There are good moments, moments that make me cringe as a reader, and moments that fall flat, failing to evoke any feelings in me.

The celebrated creator who delivers the best work in Superman: Year One is pencil artist John Romita, Jr.'s.  Stylish compositions, muscular pencil art, and inventive graphical storytelling, Romita takes advantage of the larger than usual size of this comic book (8 1/2 x 10 7/8) to draw a superhero comic book that does not pretend to be anything other than a superhero comic book.  Yet, Danny Miki's inking of Romita's pencils does make Superman: Year One #3, as well as the previous two issues, special.  That is because Miki is an inker above most comic book inking artists.  Miki can ink the fuck out of pencil art, strengthening and accentuating pencil art without overpowering it

Colorist Alex Sinclair delivers radiant hues.  He makes the art shine on the page, almost as if this is the “color rush” version of comic book coloring.  John Workman is simply a great comic book letterer, and he shows why here, as he does everywhere he letters.  Workman also makes Superman: Year One feel special, evening out Miller's eccentricities.

I was hopeful that this series could be a major, definitive Superman comic book series.  On the illustration and graphics side, Superman: Year One makes me yelp a fanboy “Awesome!”  A Superman origin story, however, deserves something more... super on the story side.

7 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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