[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
We travel back to Krypton as the planet dies. Jor-El and Lara scramble to get their little Kal-El off world before the inevitable planetary explosion. They succeed, and Kal-El arrives on Earth, in a town called Smallville. Jon and Martha Kent raise Kal-El as Clark Kent. The boy starts showing abilities, and Jon and Martha try to teach him to use those powers responsibly. Eventually, little Clark makes it to high school, and he has a crew of “weirdo” friends and develops a crush on Lana Lang.
Superman: Year One #1 is a comprehensive revisiting of the Superman legend, beginning with the death of Krypton and Clark’s adolescence in Smallville, Kansas.
Of course, this has been done by many a writer, with Superman: For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale being a personal favorite. This, of course, begs the question: what can industry legends like Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. bring to the table?
The answer to that question is taking the kind of classic Americana often associated with Superman’s famous origins and mixing it with a bit of complexity and internal conflict.
Using immense power like Superman’s responsibly would be difficult for anyone, especially when a crew of bullies seem to run your school–or even much of the town. What’s the line? What is an impossibility to others comes naturally to Clark Kent.
There are some lulls in the comic. This story is a cultural touchstone and could far too easily fall into the realm of cliche, and many of these ideas have been used in tales of Spider-Man’s origins too. That said, Miller and Romita manage to keep things fresh far more often than not, and they make sure to keep things interesting with qualities that are unmistakably Superman.
Romita Jr. is an artistic legend in his own right, so it almost feels unnecessary to talk about how excellent his work is in this book. That said, Romita Jr. does a hell of a job with this book, and his style is very clean here–which serves the book well. That’s aided by the precise inking of Danny Miki of course, and Alex Sinclair gives this book an astounding color palette.
Superman: Year One #1 is a back-to-basics return to the origins of Superman, giving the Man of Tomorrow a definitive childhood full of struggles and doubt. Leave it to the likes of Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. to do Clark Kent the justice he deserves. Needless to say, this one gets a recommendation. Feel free to give it a read.
Superman: Year One #1 comes to us from writer Frank Miller, artist John Romita Jr., inker Danny Miki, color artist Alex Sinclair, letterer John Workman, cover artist John Romita Jr. with Danny Miki and Alex Sinclair, and variant cover artist Frank Miller with Alex Sinclair.
Final Score: 8.5/10