Superman Earth One Vol. 2
By: J Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis
Reviewed by: Munawar Mobin
Superman Earth One Volume 1 was a graphic novel by J Michael Straczynski, where he reinvented Superman, clutching on to relevant details from the original and pouring in a bit of modern elements and own personal twists here and there. All in all, it was a great comic book which served as a modern invention of Superman's origins and refers to the usual patterns in most rewritten origin stories; the second volume was not anticipated (at least by yours truly).
Granted that Straczynski did manage to excel in the first volume, what he manages to pull off here is a mix of everything that is great about Superman and yet, at the same time, he manages to explore uncharted territory that leads to one unexpected twist after the other. Like the fact that Clark shacks up with a completely new girl, and Lois is only a suspicious co-worker, or that the Parasite is reinvented with a new getup and similar background story, or it could be the constant stream of Bob Dylan quotes.
The plot goes no further than Superman being nothing but a suspicious and “perhaps” friendly alien to humans all around the world, and Superman fighting and of course taking down Parasite. It's not so much the main plot that makes this novel so hard to put down, but the tiny little stories embedded in the main plot, some involving Clark's personal life, while others being Superman's problems.
The best part about this novel is the fact that as the reader finishes reading each speech bubble, admires Shane Davis's usual-stunning artwork, and turn page after page, by the end, it's easy to point out that Straczynski has very strategically and elegantly covered almost every major concern in the current world through this novel. This is seen through Superman's confrontation with a third world country's tyrannical leader, and also through Clark's drunken neighbor with track marks on his skin. Thus, through Superman and Clark Kent's interactions with the people around him, Straczynski strategically brings in problems such as drug abuse and the abuse of political power.
The ending plays a mean mind game with the reader, as the eventual collection of epilogues does nothing to put matters to rest. However the big “the end” sign in…the end, finalizes all thoughts and as you close the book and imagine Straczynski's Superman world, you realize you want more. Now go get a copy.
The story below was absolutely brilliant. And for once the writers stepped up to the plate and delivered with the context behind the words. It was difficult choosing this but it best portrayed the meaning behind the topic, made so famous by Eliot's work. For next week the topic is 'Fool in the Rain'. Google the topic and have a listen. Stories should be within 350-500 words and sent to email@example.com. The deadline is Sunday noon. Good luck.
By Tahsinul Huq
Isobel did not know what to expect, as she tentatively tiptoed across the line they had so long ago set. Interest was tempered with wariness, as she breached the barrier of his thoughts, delving for the first time into the world inside his mind. Long before the misshapen greys had taken any discernible shape, an unintelligible, muffled murmuring enveloped her. She thought she caught a fleeting “never” amidst the medley of tones. At last, the greys resolved themselves into a bustling city block. A flash of yellow passed her by and disappeared.
'A pale sun hidden away behind dark clouds, its rays sifting wearily through the grey haze that dominated the horizon. Not a speck of life to break the bleak, dull grey that stretched out for miles in every direction. Bodies – living, breathing bodies – marched past, not sparing a glance in any direction... Bodies, living bodies; hundreds of them, their dull tones melding into an incessant, meaningless murmur. Living bodies; and yet not a soul in sight. Zombies, robots, every one of them; indifferent, unsympathetic… hostile. Not one of them a person.'
She blinked rapidly, disoriented from the sudden influx of thoughts that weren't hers. They caused her to shudder. What sort of a wasteland… what kind of despair was this, that he hid inside the walls of his mind?
Grey; grey everywhere. It was oppressive, depressing… and the closer she looked, the further it deteriorated. Dilapidated buildings dominated the skyline, paint peeling off their imposing walls. Further down the avenue, even the buildings themselves had crumbled, and rubble littered the pavements. And the people… they seemed more dead than alive.
They averted their gaze, always looking straight ahead. She stepped awkwardly in front of one of them, and nearly screamed. Blank, pupil-less eyes stared out of hollow sockets. She stared horrified as the skeletal man smiled eerily at her, and offered to shake hands. A frightened whimper escaped her. His hands were stained with blood… discolored, glistening blood that dripped off his fingers, onto the ground.
'They are to be feared most; the traitors. Their laughter is an illusion, their warmth is poison.'
Before the voice had stopped echoing in her head, she was running, running away from all the horrors, tears stinging her eyes. She felt frightened; of what went through his mind, and… of him. Some small measure of his despair made her heart clench, but as she ran, she caught a glimpse of yellow.
Without thinking, she turned her head towards the color. In shock, she nearly stumbled. Hidden away in some corner of the wilting greys, amongst a dead garden, was a small, bright yellow flower, standing valiantly in sharp contrast to its surroundings. Before she could ask herself what it was, the voice whispered, this time in a tone she was all too familiar with.
'It is the one positive, colorful thing that has not eroded away in this world.
It is called, “Isobel”.'