So, my favorite character from the super-hero world is Howard the Duck. My second is Plastic Man. After that, it goes mainstream with Superman followed closely by Spider-Man.
It’s a good thing I like some mainstream heroes, because stories of my favorites are few and far betwen (though as we’ve discussed, Howard is on his way back … and the “Convergence” story will give us a two part Plastic Man story! Yay!”)
One of the books that consistently has been knocking it out of the park as far as what I want to see in my hero books is J. Michael Straczynski’s “Superman: Earth One” series. And his latest volume (released last week) is no exception.
“Superman: Earth One” is a re-imagining of the Superman story for modern times, which is something they are doing in the “New 52″ line with I reluctantly have to say a bit less success.
If you’ve never tried the Earth One series of books, they’re all actually quite fun. Batman has one volume so far (by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank!), with another scheduled for this year. Wonder Woman will have one before the end of the year (by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette!) and Teen Titans had their first volume published only a few months ago (by Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson!). The hardcover format is very appealing if you like the way your books look as well as read (the paperbacks have the same cover art, but they don’t feel as cool — plus only Batman v1 and Superman v1 & v2 are available), and the art and the writers are always top knotch.
Straczynski is no newcomer to Superman, of course, but he has modernized his version of Superman without losing the essence of who Clark Kent/Cal El/Supeman has always been. Some tweaking of Martha’s personality, some adjustments to his relationships and his enemies … it’s not all that different, and yet it’s all new!
So far, we are very early in Superman’s career. He has been working in costume for only a few years at best and he has made some missteps (but only by doing too much to help by himself). He has friends but he’s still finding his footing around the Daily Planet. The world’s governments are getting concerned … and things go from there.
But even for a Superman still figuring out where he belongs in this world, there’s a faint whiff of the big blue boy scout, a solid core of the certainty of what is right and wrong from his honest Kansas upbringing and almost none of the darkness and fear that surrounds most of today’s heroes. Even when he is at his lowest – betrayed and lied to by the powers that be – at his core he believes that the people of his adopted home are good and can learn to trust him like he trusts them.
It’s corny and optimistic and bright and charming – everything I’ve always loved about Superman.