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‘Superman: Year One #2 (of 3)’ (review)

Written by Frank Miller
Art by John Romita Jr.
Published by DC Comics

 

“Superman arrives. Nothing will be the same” is a quote by Frank Miller when discussing his take on Year One.

Well, he wasn’t kidding.

While change can be a good thing, here, no so much. Clark Kent went from a likable bully slayer in the last issue to a not so likable Naval recruit. He’s endured the strenuous boot camp training regimen with ease.

This is to be expected; however, he didn’t even try to hide it.

Clark disobeys orders, gets into fights, sneaks off in the middle of the night and cheats on his girlfriend. Clark is mindful of how easy things come to him.

However, he doesn’t seem to care one way or another, which provides no emotional weight to any of these issues.

Later, Clark fails to pull the trigger during a mission because, at that moment, he truly realized the fragility of human life compared to his own. Murder goes against everything the Superman we all know, and love stands for. Clark’s realization here came at the last possible second, put his squad at risk and came out of nowhere. Clark develops a relationship with a mermaid from Atlantis and tries so hard to win the approval of her incestuous father. That little plot point goes down the rabbit hole to a nearly uncomfortable place.

One drill sergeant took notice of his super recruit; slightly teasing he may know the truth about Clark. Nothing ever came about it, which is frustrating since that appears to be Miller’s M.O. here. The tense shifting introspective dialog returns and is just as much of a chore to consume as it was last time. There may be unknown entities watching Clark from afar, but nothing is teased beyond the words on the page.

The artwork of John Romita Jr. shines once by telling the story more effectively than Miller’s script.

Clark using his heat vision for the first time was a great visual that highlighted how it must feel, biologically for someone to use such power. It’s something I never thought of before. The enemy Clark fought had a green stone affixed to its head. It took me out of the story a little bit because I had to keep guessing whether it was Kryptonite or not. It ended up not being Kryptonite, which means another color should have been used since it was an unintended mystery. The coloring of Alex Sinclair lacked a certain splendor that usually accompanies his work. The purple, gold, and green color pallet of Atlantis was muted instead of gritty or worn.

I’ll be the first to admit that this review might come off as someone who is shaking their first while yelling, “This is not my Superman.” The thing is, I’m not sure who’s Superman this is supposed to be. I’m not even sure if Frank Miller knows. Clark is just, there. Letting the journey of this penultimate chapter offer little substance for a “definitive origin story” that is anything but.

Rating: D

 

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