I heard somewhere recently that there have been fifty-two retellings of the Man of Steel’s origins. I can’t vouch for this exact number, but I can believe it. Superman: Earth One, written by J. Michael Straczynski and penciled by Shane Davis, is the latest, and—with the possible exception of the way John Byrne tossed out Krypton’s entire mythology in favor of the sterile ice planet of the Richard Donner film—the most radical. It’s also the first offering in DC’s new “Earth One” line.
Similar to Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line, DC: Earth One is a series of original graphic novels (OGNs) that take place in stories divorced from the regular DC continuity. Their publicity material cited 2008’s Brian Azzarello hardcover reinterpretation of Batman’s arch nemesis, Joker, as an inspiration for the new line, and Joker could easily have fit into this world in style and tone.DC: Earth One is intended in part, as Joker was, as an introduction to new readers, attracted by the success of recent comic related films, looking for modern, sophisticated retellings of the classic myths. (And indeed, both Richard Donner and David Goyer supply blurbs on the back cover.) But does the world even need another origin story for the ur-superhero?