Superman: Year One #2 – Frank Miller, Writer; John Romita Jr, Penciller; Danny Miki, Inker; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Ray: After Superman: Year One #1, a Black Label series debut, had such odd and off-putting touches like turning Kal-El into some sort of highly evolved being that hypnotized Jonathan Kent into adopting him, and a scene where Lana Lang barely escaped a gang rape, Superman: Up in the Sky #2, an oversized issue, is much more appealing but no less bizarre.
Frank Miller’s take on Superman’s origin – something that’s been retold too many times to count – seems to want to set itself apart by putting Clark into situations Superman has never seen before. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it just feels like mad libs that just happen to star Superman. The good news is, no matter how bizarre this issue gets, John Romita Jr. gets to shine this issue with some spectacular splash pages.
There’s two main beats in this issue, with the first being Clark’s time in the US Navy. Superman joining the military was a controversial plot point, and I’m still not sure if this is supposed to be pro-military or anti-military after Martha’s odd speech last issue. Clark goes through basic training, gets abused by the commanders, and aces every test, leading to him being transferred to the Navy SEALS.
There, he meets Captain Kurtzberg, his mentor, and continues to develop his skills. He also has a strange misadventure where he encounters the mermaid Lori Lemaris for the first time – Lori looks much more alien than she did in the Silver Age. Multiple scenes of Superman training to kill and using a gun are off-putting, but eventually he does come to his no-killing morals and defuses a situation involving a terrorist takeover of a sub with no dead – but breaking protocol gets him drummed out of the SEALS.
The second half of the issue is the more exciting one, as Clark returns to Atlantis to try to win the heart of Lori – and finds that he’ll have to pass through a gauntlet of tests from her father, Poseidon. He battles a giant enchanted armor, an army of Atlantean guards, and eventually a massive Kraken illustrated in stunning style. But each victory makes Poseidon angrier, and he soon proves to be less an overprotective father and more a sadistic maniac.
In a very Miller touch, he’s claimed his own daughter as his future bride and kills any suitors who come for her. The visuals are excellent in this segment, but the narration – switching between Clark, Lori, Poseidon, and the Kraken – make it rather confusing. Still, this issue is a fascinatingly bizarre take on a very different Superman before he heads to Metropolis.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.