Superman: Year One #3 – Frank Miller, Writer; John Romita Jr., Penciller; Danny Miki, Inker; Alex Sinclair, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Ray: The first issue of Superman: Year One, a prestige format Black Label series, lost me almost immediately with a bizarrely cynical take on Superman and his origins, but the second pulled me back with a bonkers adventure for Superman deep under the sea as he battled a kraken for the heart of Lori Lemaris. Now in Superman: Year One #3, Clark arrives in Metropolis.
In many ways, the three issues of this retelling of Superman’s origin all feel like different comics – and maybe that’s by intention. There’s little connection in tone between any of them, and the third one sends us rushing headlong into a new adventure as we get closer to the Superman we know. At least in some ways – Miller’s take on Superman is far too harsh and cynical for me to be comfortable with it. But when he rescues Lois Lane from drowning early in this issue, it feels closer to the intrepid reporter we know than many modern portrayals. This Lois is sharp-edged, cynical, and hyper-competent, but also knows an ally and hero when she sees it and finds herself won over by this Superman faster than she expects.
After a brief detour, Clark finally heads for Metropolis, and this segment is a mixed bag. The segment where Clark develops his unique “unassuming” look to throw Lois off the trail is a great display of John Romita Jr.’s art, as he makes subtle changes to his appearance in each panel. Jimmy Olsen also seems well-written, although without the nuance of his current solo series. Miller’s Perry White is all off – there’s a weird recent trend in Superman comics of taking Perry from a loveable grump who looks out for his reporters to a circulation-obsessed crank who frequently berates his employees. It’s much more J. Jonah Jameson than Superman.
Superman’s first big adventure, rescuing a group of hostages at Lexcorp, is an excellent action segment, although some of the narration is a little off as Miller’s Superman continues to have a darker edge. Miller’s Lex Luthor, though – perfectly oily and almost seductive as he attempts to buy Superman’s loyalty, but a bit too crude in his sexual references to women.
It’s the last third of this issue where things go completely off the rails, though.
It feels like Miller thought he had five issues and learned at the last second he only had three, so he crammed the rest of the story into about thirty pages. Superman meets Batman, fights Batman, and we see the beginning of the rage that builds between them over the Dark Knight saga.
Luthor forms an alliance with Joker, which isn’t fully explored, including a reference that Joker is currently sane. Superman and Batman are interrupted by Wonder Woman, whose presence in the story feels like a tease for a Miller WW story to come. At least she’s written better than she was in the All-Star line?
The story even ends on a cliffhanger as Superman seeks out answers on Krypton and a new enemy is introduced. Is this part one of a new series? I’m honestly not sure. This series is a confusing mess, but it’s also a fascinating one that raises a lot more questions than it answers.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.