AS ORIGIN STORIES GO, it's hard to find one more familiar than Superman's. (Jesus'? Maybe?) Yet here's Superman: Earth One, the first graphic novel in a proposed series that will reboot DC Comics' heroes for contemporary readers.
To be fair, maybe Superman's 72-year-old mythos could use some sprucing up—but Earth One takes too few chances. Here, Clark Kent's a mopey, confused super-teen trying to decide what to make of his life—until, conveniently enough, aliens attack Metropolis, led by a villain who looks like a cranky Ziggy Stardust. Like clockwork, on go the tights and out come the punches.
When writer J. Michael Straczynski gets to stretch (his scenes inside the Daily Planet newspaper offices are phenomenal), Earth One hints at freshness, and penciler Shane Davis and colorist Barbara Ciardo prove adept at dirtying up the usually gleaming Metropolis. Somewhere in here there's a better, weirder, newer Superman story, but Earth One is shackled by its reverence. One can't fault DC for being precious with their flagship character, but Earth One is an underwhelming, rote experience. If they want to tell this story yet again, one wishes they'd have pushed it a bit further, and had a bit more fun in process.