Graphic Novel Review: Superman: Year One by Frank Miller

December 21, 2020

Superman: Year One by Frank Miller (illustrated by John Romita Jr.) is tells the origin story of the superhero that started it all. Frank Miller is writer, director and artist (Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, 300) and one of the most popular creator in comics. John Romita Jr. is one the most beloved and known comic book artists, ironically known for his work on Marvel Comics.

  • 216 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1401291376
  • Publisher : DC Black Label
  • Language : English

Graphic Novel Review: Superman: Year One by Frank Miller
My rat­ing for Superman: Year One 3
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This was a weird take on my favorite superhero, some good ideas but a lot of missed opportunities.

I appreciate with this graphic novel was trying to do, as have several others before it. That is exploring the idea of a hero, how we see them and how they see themselves, as well as the importance of the choices you make and how the impact they might have throughout your life.

I was excited to read a Frank Miller Superman story, but was also apprehensive since it is known of his dislike for the character. I did appreciate the effort, however some aspects made no sense to me. Baby Kal-El manipulates (psychically?) the Kents into adopting him, the inner monologue of a teen super-athlete was very awkward, and the girls swooning over Clark (mermaids and Wonder Woman included) was just too much, the struggles of an outsider, an immigrant, and not belonging anywhere, which I thought was integral to his story was missing.

The biggest missed prospect of the story was Clark joining the Navy SEALS story-line. I was looking forward to see where that was going, and it went nowhere. This could have been an excellent chance to give Clark an appreciation for the fragility of human life, the discipline and humility one should have when vested with extraordinary powers, installing discipline, integrity, and a healthy skepticism of life, not blindly following officials (or blindly following if you’re Miller’s Superman – but that was missed too). The one aspect I’m surprised that Mr. Miller passed on, when it comes to this narrative, is that it would have been a chance to instill in Superman the conservative values (in the classical sense, not the insane definition of the 2000’s) and general “ass-hole-ishness” which keeps the Justice League in-line.

There are two things which define Superman throughout his evolution, no matter what his powers are, or what challenges are thrown his way:
1. He never gives up
2. He is selfless
This one missed them both.

John Romita, Jr.’s art was really good. The panels were dynamic, and moved the story along. I was afraid that this DC story would like it came out of the Marvel universe, but it looked fine even though I didn’t like the Superman outfit, the shield was comically small and it just bothered me.

Besides the missed prospects and general discomfort, the ending was very rushed once more staple characters were introduced. As much as I liked the character, and appreciate the effort to tell a new “old” story, this graphic novel, for me, was a miss.

This graphic novel is another retelling / re-imaging of Superman’s origin story. From the collapse of Krypton, to the Kent farm in Kansas, from the military, to the depths of the ocean, and becoming a superhero in Metropolis.

On the way Clark Kent learns the responsibility that comes with having his powers, as well as balancing them with his humanity.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got bought this book.
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