Folks in the comic book world already know that J. Michael Straczynski (Of Babylon 5, Rising Stars, and Midnight Nation, as well as numerous other television projects) is currently writing for the Man of Steel, with his "Grounded" storyline...an interesting concept where Supes is walking across the country helping folks where he can... all based on a comment that a grieving mother makes when she says that by flying above everyone he forgets about the importance of people. I dig that it isn't a tale about big battles and other standard comic book stuff (though those things are there), it's about a man making his moral choice and sticking to it. Now that might be enough for some folks, but the good editors over at DC comics offered JMS a chance to write a new Superman for a new Earth (based on the DC comics world numbering system they've come up with for parallel realities). He took it, and got this new young man of steel off on a solid start.
The basic story of Superman is still the same, thus the one that has grown and become part of the collective unconscious of the 21st century. This is more a tale of who he is, and why he makes the choices he does, and the aspects of his revelation to his world. It's a story about a young man with seemingly infinite potential and prospects, and the burden of the choices that he needs to make. The primary changes we see with JMS taking the reigns is his re-imagining of the story of Krypton. Who it's people were, what they did, and what happened to them. [Spoilers] It's a brilliant idea, making the death of the planet not an accident or something it's brilliant scientists missed...but a deliberate attempt to exterminate a whole world.[/Spoilers] And sets our new Clark Kent up with a whole galaxy full of folks who may want him dead... so if nothing else, the Superman of Earth One will have plenty of opponents to look forward to. The book also has an interesting new look for Metropolis... It doesn't look like the City of Tomorrow anymore... it feels much more like modern day New York. And it's Grand Dame: The Daily Planet is feeling the pressure of the changing times as much as our real newspapers, with all the problems that suggests. So the question will inevitably arise..."Why there? With all the other forms of news organizations available to the savvy individual for trouble shooting... why would Superman associate himself with a hurting media source?" Mr. Straczynski cleverly incorporates the reasoning and justification straight into the story... well aware of the traditional maxim "show, don't tell", all tossed together with the new characters of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen for this new Earth.
With Shane Davis' excellent artwork, JMS has crafted a great story, and fun characters interspersed with terrific action. Still, one of my favorite pieces of the book is the Clark Kent interview with Superman at the end. It's clever and works to set up both the personalities that will be working for the character throughout the stories, Superman and the mask of Clark Kent. This is a highly recommended book to anyone who's a fan of the Superman mythology... point of fact it's recommended to everybody. And speaking for myself, I can't wait to meet the next hero from Earth One.