REVIEW: ‘Superman: Year One,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Superman: Year One #2 is published by DC Comics under the DC Black Label imprint. It is written by Frank Miller, with art by  John Romita Jr., inks by Danny Miki, colors by Alex Sinclair, and letters by John Workman. Picking up where issue one left off we find Clark Kent arriving at navy boot camp. While here, he learns about himself and his place in the world. If only it didn’t take him so long to figure things out.

Most of the first half of Superman: Year One #2 is devoted to Clark’s time at boot camp. And it probably comes as no surprise that he excels at every aspect of his training. From his uncanny ability to never get tired to his inhumanly perfect aim, he surpasses anyone his commanders have ever seen.

This sequence is shown again… and again…. and again. While there is an internal dialogue running from Clark, and sometimes others, throughout this sequence it rapidly wears out its welcome. The knowledge gained by Clark is important and nice to see but a good portion of this felt like it was just filling the 60-page count the book has.

Though, a surprise change in scenery came in the back half of Superman: Year One #2 as Superman journeys to the underwater realm of Atlantis. However, this quickly gave way to its own set of sizable problems. Clark must first overcome a series of obstacles, as Poseidon sets him up against various martial challengers. These are initially presented as a rite of passage. Being Kryptonian, these challengers prove to be no problem. And while Superman breezing through tests of physical fortitude is to be expected, coming off an overwrought first half these “challenges” did nothing to reclaim my attention.

But my biggest issue with Superman: Year One #2 is when Clark confronts Poseidon. He is convinced that Clark, as an outsider, wishes to steal away with his daughter, and his throne.  However, during his verbal sparring with Clark, Poseidon proclaims his daughter to be “his princess and his bride”.

As Poseidon shows up late in Superman: Year One #2 it is clear they wanted to make him vile in a hurry. But overall, this feels unnecessary. If one were to remove the four to five dialogue boxes this is covered in, the book would resolve exactly as it does. The addition of Poseidon’s vile motive feels like a shoehorned idea shoved in to make it fit with the “mature readers” theming of the DC Black Label. As it is, the proclamation of planned incest and the dread on his daughter’s face over the possibility of being raped is the worst kind of bad shock writing.

The one point of Superman: Year One #2 that does sustain its previous level of quality is the art. Romita Jr.’s drawing does a great job of capturing both the mundane and the fantastic. Coupled with his ability to capture the essence of Clark’s confidence creates a visual treat.

The colors are also vibrant and striking which are the highlight of the book. As scenes throughout Superman: Year One #2 take place at all hours of the day giving ample opportunity for great contrast in color palettes between scenes. And not one of these opportunities are wasted. Sinclair does a particularly fantastic job with a couple of gorgeous sunrise and sunset scenes.

I had high hopes going into Superman: Year One #2. This issue’s storytelling, however, is nothing short of a complete letdown. Slow pacing and a last-minute dive into an ugly villain trope soured this book. While it isn’t without any virtue, I can’t say it’s worth slogging through.

Superman: Year One #2 is available now everywhere comic books are sold

Superman: Year One #2
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TL;DR

This issue’s storytelling, however, is nothing short of a complete letdown. Slow pacing and a last-minute dive into an ugly villain trope soured this book.