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Superjuan vs Earth One: The story of a man against a good writer who can be really horrible.

edited 2012-06-28 02:22:54 in Liveblogging
You can change. You can.

Ladies, Gentlemen and Haven, due to heady curiosity and a high interest in the ninth art, I have decided to do something incredibly heinous to myself in order to gain more knowledge.


I’m about to read Superman: Earth One and liveblog it, so you don’t have to.

For starters, let’s talk a bit about what this comic aims to do

See, for a while now (And back then, of course) DC and Marvel have had the rather logical worry that comics had a high barrier entry. Marvel and DC had tried adaptations in order to act as gateways, to various levels of succeses (From tv series like Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman to movies like Superman, all the way through cartoon classics like B:TAS)

Of course, the issue here is that liking these things does not mean that someone will become a comic book reader. After all, it’s much easier to watch Spider-Man than looking for Amazing Fantasy 15. 

As such, companies have tried to create various “gateway” comics for people who want to get into the characters but can’t due to the scary continuity. Marvel tried doing this by creating an entire alternate universe, which has become just as complicated (well, not really, but to the non-discerning eyes of the outsider) as the original 616 universe. 

DC, however, decided to try less “universal” approaches, which really says something about the focuses of the Big Two. Where one really cares about a consistent continuity and a big sprawling universe, the other one just cares about telling good stories with these characters and occasionally showing them as part of a bigger universe. None of these approaches are invalid, but hey have their downsides and upsides. But anyway, DC created the All Star line as a gateway point, which worked quite well for All Star Superman (easily one of the most beloved Superman stories out there) but considering Miller’s All Star Batman’s failure, DC decided to both cancel the title itself and then to cancel the line.

There was also Birthright and Secret Origins, which were, funnily enough, two tellings of Superman’s origin.

To be honest, I think that one of the biggest issues lies within this right here. It’s just revisiting a story just about everyone knows by now and which had been told twice already within these issues. All in order to appeal to the young adult demographic who likes a teenage clark who broods and angsts and blah de blah. It’s a good marketing ploy in theory, but the thing about it is that, well, does it really open a market for people who want to get into Superman? I mean, Superman is not written like this, usually. And it’s not like someone would read this, like it, and then buy All Star Superman or the most recent Superman issue. Or at least they would and hey, it’s totally possible they like it, but the thing is, they wouldn’t like it because it’s so similar to Earth One. 

With these thoughts and impressions in mind, I start this liveblog. Hopefully, I can keep you interested


  • I actually kind of liked Earth One.

    It was fun and Jimmy Olsen got to be really awesome in inspiring Clark of all people.

  • You can change. You can.


    The book already starts with a pretty big pet peeve of mine. The whole “grounding Superman” thing. It’s implicit, though. But really, that’s not what’s bad about it. What’s bad about this first page is that it’s basically this notion that Superman can’t enjoy being Superman.

    While I understand what Straczynski is attempting to go for here (Clark is insecure about his powers, about who he is, etc)  it doesn’t come across as that. It comes across as this sick idea that Superman needs to hate being who he is.

    Because, you know, there’s nothing fun about flying at the speed of sound, not worrying about pain, death and such. Especially when your parents raise you to be such.

    I guess this also touches on another thing that bugs me about how some people approach superheroes. This notion that we need to sacrifice idealism for realism when dealing with these gods and punchers of things

    And I mean, there’s nothing wrong with “realistic characterization” in superhero fiction. I just disagree with applying it to Superman specifically because it doesn’t fit him. Superman is about believing that a man can fly and not use this to run away from cops. About believing that man can use heat vision to disarm thieves and not to just burn another person’s burrito because they were a dick, and so on. 

    Then, we get this little scene. In here, we see that Clark is just like any other teenager, without a purpose and an idea of what to do. I can’t entirely protest that notion, considering that that’s what the book intends to do.
    But I think it’s worthwhile to compare it with Waid’s Birthright (Hands down, best Superman origin story, really)
    Birthright’s first issue has that issue of superhero origins where the first few pages drag on simply because we know who Superman is, where he comes from and so on. I guess that a guy trying to get into the character and has only heard of this would find it somewhat fascinating, but the thing is, it feels unnecessary (Even if Birthright would later use that scene to make the ending hurt like a bitch. ;_;)
    But, and this is where Birthright wins over Earth One, Clark has a purpose, even If that isn’t becoming the famous Caped Crusader, puncher of robots, burner of aliens that he would become later. He wanted to become a journalist and we see him traveling around the world, reporting stories here and there.
    Waid’s characterization beats Straczynski because it reflects a side of Superman we all know about but we see very few times these days. The cocksure, carefree, devil-may-dare man. The kind of guy who actually relishes flying at top speeds and fighting gigantic alligator gorillas or shooting little Supermen from his fingers. In other words, the kind of man who not only knows he’s saving lives, but the kind of man who knows he’s doing it in an unconventional way and enjoys that. It’s just something that is entirely true to the character.
    And I think that’s this book’s biggest issue. It’s fundamental purpose is to ignore a character who has been around from the 30s, put an entirely different character with the same powerset in the story to replace him and then call it after the older character. It’s not about Superman or Clark Kent. It’s about teenagers everywhere projecting themselves as Clark and imagining what they would do if they were him. And that’s what infuriates me. Superman is not about our weaknesses. It’s about our strengths.

    This scene always weirds me out because it doesn’t have much of a purpose. It shows us that Metropolis is secretly Gotham, I suppose

    Speaking of, this book has a really ugly Metropolis. And I dislike that because it’s also ignoring canon and older characterization in order to bring in other audiences. The streets are supposed to look bustling with life, the city needs to feel like the shiniest pearl in the world. It’s just what fits the character best.

    And then we have Superman being mugged and then him showing off his powers and getting away. I guess it’s supposed to show two things:

    >Metropolis is secretly Gotham

    >Superman has……………………………………………………………………………………………………..POWERS

    I mean, it seriously doesn’t contribute anything to the story and all it does is make Superman look like a big bag of dicks for not even calling the police to arrest the guy, or taking him to the police station. And it’s not like they’d believe the mugger’s story about a guy who just shat heat rays out of his eyes, would they?

    After this, we have Superman applying for football. This is also another thing where you can see DC editorial going “We want an Smallville comic. But we won’t call it Smallville. Because fuck brand recognition and reasonable naming, let’s just do it like this”

    Maybe I’m being unfair, considering that Earth One is supposed to be a brand and a response to Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. But at this juncture, I don’t really care. This book's whole intention is to capitalize on Smallville's success outside of DC's normal readership. And I don't mind this per se, but I do find it infuriating that their way of selling a product is, practically speaking, false advertisement.

  • Smallville...is...was a bag of messy that had some good characterization and fine moments but then turned into a huge bag of dicks because people wouldn't turn off their TV.


    My genuine question is how many Superman origin stories do we need? There have been at least three in the past five years, not counting Smallville. This one is easily the worst and it adds nothing except literally marketing to the Superman franchise.

    It's why I think Morrison's Action #9 is so great. Superman's creators and screwed over and marketing literally corrupts and destroys him.

  • You can change. You can.

    Well, Birthright was just a non-canon story for fun, Secret Origin and Action Comics were both post-reboots so they wanted to try and bring in new people who were scared of continuity or, in Secret Origin's case, like, assuage continuity fanboy dorks' doubts, I guess.

    Earth One is supposed to introduce a new universe, like Ultimate Marvel. It's just that much like Ultimate Marvel, it's drenched on this notion that what people want out of superheroes is to not be likeable. 


    I don't count Action Comics so much as an origin since he's still doing Superman and being Superman. Just... younger.

  • You can change. You can.

    It's not a fullblown "He's in Smallville! Doing nothing but punching things and whining to a buncha girls about the fact that he doesn't have to worry about death, hunger or sleep ever again because, well, uh, he does like worrying" but I still count it as an origin story. Just not a boring one.

    I mean, in Birthright, he is going around, saving lives and such. It's just that he doesn't wear the S yet. Action Comics' origin is more "How Superboy became be Superman", basically. 

  • Hey are you going to finish this thing?

    And are you going to do Batman: Earth One too? I can share it with you if you like.

  • You can change. You can.

    I have been procastinating on it, but yeah, I aim to finish it once I finish other much important work.

  • edited 2012-07-14 22:51:30
    You can change. You can.

    So, I decided to update this liveblog weekly.

    I decided to skip the football practice part by virtue of what I said before and there being nothing really remarkable except Clark abusing his powers to look good and possibly hurt at least one person during his doing so. Our Hero, Ladies and Gentlemen!

    Now, let us continue as I make the impossible possible and make you believe that a man can whine about movies in the internet without sounding like a complete imbec...bwaahahahahaha not even i can finish that sentence.

    First thing we see after Clark being amazing at football is this:


    Clark being fuckawesome at science. Which is really stupid.

    See, to me, Clark should be smart. Not a prodigy, but smart, which I think is one of Smallville’s biggest failures as Clark has to constantly rely on Chloe to do his thinking for him. But Clark should excel at lateral thinking and thinking outside the box. Sort of a contrast to Batman’s preparedness for any situation, if you will.

    And even if he was a superscientist (Like in All Star Superman) what should be done is first and foremost to not have him give his forumlas and knowledge to random companies for reasons that go without saying.

    The thing that irks me to no end about these scenes with Superman searching for a job or a purpose is twofold: First, to me, Superman should have been a hero since he was a kid. He was influenced by heavily moralistic and loving parents to do right by his neighbor and to care about the people around him, I know I’ve said Smallville too often here but it’s because for all intents and purposes this is an Smallville story trying to capitalize in teenage show aesthetics and attitudes to sell a character who doesn’t even behave like that. But anyway, the reason why I bring it up again is because these scenes are constantly implied to be Clark searching for a purpose and the fact that he doesn’t think of doing right by others and instead just flaunts his abilities to other people is so non-Clark Kent it’s not even funny. While I understand the idea of the book is to develop Clark so that he becomes Superman, I just simply disagree with the idea on principle because Superman is supposed to be idealized. Bringing him down to earth, making him severely flawed, all those things are people missing the point of Superman. And even Smallville had Clark helping people when he could, even if he was a complete failure both as a person and as a superhero at it. 



    This scene is actually quite well written and I think it taps onto why this book really annoys me. See, JMS has to make the best of a tough sell for people who are actually interested or invested on Superman and sometimes he manages impressive or at least resonant scenes like these. It’s just that he still has to write copious amounts of shit.

    Not to say that JMS is a good Superman scribe (We all know about his run and his idea of grounding Superman. *shudder*) but simply that he’s a good scribe when he wants to be. It’s just that he’s often picked up by editors to write horrible things.

    I think the most notable flaw in this scene, though, is how Clark sounds. He sounds bland and he just lets Martha ramble on about what’s good and bad for him. And the thing is, when you’re as old as Clark is here (I think he has graduated from college at the very least), stuff like “You should search for your own happiness and then care for those of your beloved ones” is not something that you should be told. And again, this irks me because taking the first superhero and making him a cipher for teenagers is…well, I’d list writing atrocities but this is beyond anything that Stephanie Meyer has ever done.



    We then see Clark applying for more jobs across Metropolis, impressing future employers and blah de blah until he decides to apply to the Daily Planet.

    This bit doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to me. If Clark was looking out only for big money to keep his mom comfy, why is he going to work in a crummy dead newspaper?



    I seriously think that Perry might be the best character in this whole thing and it’s exactly because he’s another better character with another name.


    We also get Lois’ introduction. Where she whines at Perry about some paragraph that she liked or something.

    To be honest, while I can sympathize with her, having had at least one paragraph from my articles being edited out, I just can’t agree with the idea of introducing the Daily Planet’s best reporter as someone who’s whining to her editor about some paragraph. Not to mention that every ounce of competence and risqué Lois had seems to have been sucked out by Jimmy Olsen here.

    Now, I’m not one for rambling about Social Justice. I agree that inequality is a thing and that it needs to be solved, but I don’t live in a country where racism is as big a deal as it is in the US. Not to say that we’re better but whatever. But the fact is that what really annoys me is the notion of “depowering” one of the strongest female characters the DCU has. Not in terms of sucking out her superpowers but in terms of sucking out something much more important to a character: her personality. Sure, she calls out Perry but she’s clearly in the wrong here, which is what bothers me. Lois, while not superpowered was and is one of the most legitimately strong female characters comics have had. She's not just Clark's love interest, she's a person, with a set of flaws and skills that come from years of characterization. 

    Anyway, I might as well stop here. See you around, True Believers!

  • You posted one image twice.

    But yes, I agree that the idea of 'Clark Kent searching for a job, wowing everybody' doesn't work. Nameless Kansas farmboy, suddenly showing up in all Metropolitan firms, wowing the entire scientific and sports community with what cannot be mistaken as utterly superhuman capability, before disappearing and reappearing as a newspaper reporter? That sends up red flags of all kinds. 

    Hell, if I was as smart as Clark, I would sign up on that job with Neodyne immediately and become the newest wizard inventor in the mold of Marconi and Da Vinci, powers be damned, "not fitting in" be damned. You can't buy the high of changing the world.  

    The goal here is to make Clark Kent, the boy looking for a purpose, become a man and learn that he can do the most good by wearing a silly costume and saving people's lives. Making him a super-genius now would detract from that in every way possible. Why waste your time playing rescue worker when you can build robot rescuers or develop indestructible buildings that also put out fires as they come immensely cheaply? 

  • You can change. You can.

    Fixed the duplicate.

    It's interesting really, because I originally said that Superman shouldn't be a superscientist, but then I realized that he has the fortress of solitude and he interacts with science well beyond the science on earth everyday. He understands it too because he's smart and he's quick at picking things up. But then while editing and polishing it up I realized that my original complaint didn't work because it ignored such a big part of the character (That he interacts with both Kryptonian and Human culture and that he's the product of both which is what leads to the fascinating conundrum of who Superman really is)

    The reason why this bothers me is because it comes from this idea of pseudo-post-modern reboots where they must assault the "questions" that populate the collective consciousness in terms of the characters. "Why are people fooled by Clark's costume?" "Why doesn't Batman kill the Joker and so on?" and come up with answers that are not only incredibly lacking in satisfaction, but are also wrong to the characters. Clark's reasons for not changing the world with super-science shouldn't come from his dislike of certain people, it should come from his own ideology of letting human kind become better at their own.

  • edited 2012-07-15 02:06:25

    He doesn't need to be a superscientist, he could just be a Kryptonian tool-user with some knowledge of maintenance and repair and tinkering, but not enough to sciencey things.

    Still, that sort of thing doesn't really matter.

  • Look like we're finally having Superman: Earth One: The Movie: http://io9.com/5926048/first-man-of-steel-footage-shows-a-more-alienated-superman?popular=true

    Oi, more brooding, "alienated" Superman. That sounds absolutely terrible.


    Will there be more super stalking?

  • Seems likely.

    I've officially lost all hope for the movie.

    And that costume looks fucking stupid.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    Ha, I've learned not to take anyone's opinions on unreleased movies here seriously when I remembered all the people who dismissed The Avengers as a spectacle movie based on the trailers.

  • edited 2012-07-15 12:34:46
    You can change. You can.

    I never said that! I said it'd be Whedon indulging in his excesses and it'd suck like Dollhouse!

    but then i realized that there are editors and stuff

    Either way, the movie is billing itself as gritty and the fact that Zack "Let's miss the point of comic books to make them flashy" Snyder is directing doesn't make it any better. With that said, if this movie ends up being an interest exploration of the whole Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman conundrum, then I'll be OK with it.

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    Zack Snyder

    I was about to say something about the fact that the Watchmen movie was pretty much as good as a Watchmen movie could have been, but then I realized that the goodness was mostly due to the script not trying to screw with too much stuff, and all Zack Snyder really contributed to it was stuff like the excessive slow-motion :/

  • You can change. You can.

    The thing for me about the Watchmen movie is that while it's...well, as good as a Watchmen movie can get, it's just a lousy adaptation. It doesn't give you anything new or makes you want to not read the book. Any goodness it has comes from the fact that it's Watchmen and not a Watchmen movie. 

    Not to mention that almost all of the movie's failures could be fixed if Hollywood wasn't so goddamn obssessed with turning comics into movies instead of TV series. Watchmen could have been a perfect 12 episodes HBO series and it'd pretty much end up doing all the things that series like Lost get praised for (Impressive character work, mostly) but instead Snyder and his scripters have to cram all in together for three hours to create an incredibly uninteresting experience. 

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    It doesn't give you anything new

    I do actually think the change to the big reveal kinda made it more character-based, which was interesting.

    Other than that, though, I agree with you. Watchmen really just wasn't suited to a movie project.

  • You can change. You can.

    Oh yeah, I always forget about that. I'm of two minds about that because to me, the Squid represents that Watchmen and Alan Moore are not above silliness. i mean, whenever people say that Watchmen is realistic, they seem to mean it's naturalistic, but that's stupid. Watchmen takes lots of liberties with the concept of reality, well beyond the fact that Doctor Manhattan is a thing. 

    On the other hand, having "Doctor Manhattan" destroy all these cities does make more sense, though. I think the only serious criticism I could raise at that ending is that it makes Manhattan's running away to create his own world thing to seem less of a decision he made on his own and more of an obligation. 

  • edited 2012-07-15 14:30:50
    OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    I do like the original too. Basically, both versions of the reveal are good for different reasons, and both have their arguable flaws.

  • I'm a damn twisted person

    I however, eagerly await the day comic fans will stop advertising Watchmen as the best comic ever

  • OOOooooOoOoOOoo, I'm a ghoOooOooOOOost!

    It does get overly hyped, but there's a good argument to be made that it's the second most important in terms of the history of the medium.

  • You can change. You can.

    Watchmen is groundbreaking and a very enjoyable read. I just wish people didn't try to establish a best anything ever, really. It's the kind of thing that simply can't be quantified. 

    plus the Sandman exists, anyway. so it can't be the best.

  • So apparently The Man of Steel trailer will make its post-Comic-Con debut in front of The Dark Knight Rises. 

    Guess we'll find out if we see more of Snyder's dreaded trademarks or not.

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