Superman: Earth One Vol. 3
The follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling graphic novels SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 and 2 is here! Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Ardian Syaf, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero.
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Penciller: Wayne Boring/Al Plastino
Cover: Wayne Boring
Reviewed by: Daniel McIntosh
The story begins with Perry White on the phone talking with some gangsters who are threatening him over some newspaper articles that have been written by him on some crime rackets operating in Metropolis. In walks Lois Lane to the surprise of Perry White slamming the phone down on the receiver and breaking the desk in two. Meanwhile the gangsters that Perry White was talking to over the phone are in fact in the building across the street and are armed with rifles. They attempt to shoot him. Lois is simply stunned and in disbelief when the bullets simply bounce off of Perry's back. Lois then cries that Perry must be Superman. All of a sudden Perry peels back the mask and rips open his shirt revealing none other than the Man of Steel! Lois then admits to stupidly thinking that Clark was Superman.
We then skip back to the previous day where it is revealed that the article written by Perry White exposes the smaller crime rackets to be run by one boss, in effect forming one large crime racket. Perry informs both Lois and Clark of his discovery. Clark believes that the unidentified crime boss will attempt to kill Perry for his articles. While Clark is looking out the window and watching Perry crossing the street he notices a car trying to run Perry over and in an instant changes into Superman and saves Perry. Superman then proceeds to take Perry away and hide him in a cave specially built for Perry to protect him while Superman attempts to flush out the boss of the rackets.
We now skip back to the present where Superman has flown across to the other building and beaten up the two gunmen who attempted to kill Perry White and then whisk them off to jail. Upon Superman's return as Perry White instructs Lois to write an article that Perry White is in fact Superman. Superman then reveals that this is all part of a master plan to make the crime boss rattled and make a mistake allowing our hero to capture him! Superman knowing quite well that Lois will be off to gloat to Cark about her new discovery changes back into Clark Kent at super speed and returns to his desk awaiting Lois's arrival. Lois then informs Clark of how she has the scoop of the century and that she will be the queen of all the reporters. Clark sarcastically replies in agreement with "yes your majesty".
As Lois's article is published in the Daily Planet newspaper revealing that Perry White is indeed Superman, this comes as a startling revelation to many people, including some of the most dangerous criminals in Metropolis. The likes of Lex Luthor, the Toyman and the Prankster are all amazed at the revelation. Superman discovers there is only one minor drawback to his plan and that is all the celebrity-like attention Perry White is now receiving. Now knowing the apparent truth about the Daily Planet's editor, the gangsters inform 'The Boss' about Perry White. Nevertheless, 'The Boss' decides to continue with his criminal venture.
Meanwhile on top of the Daily Planet building Superman with his super-voice tells everyone duped by racketeers to come forth and reveal the duplicity. A man form a charity who has been selling tickets for a cruise to raise money for a children's charity to buy poor kids shoes reveals to Superman the racket in fact had printed up fake tickets for the cruise and had sold them which means that there are no longer enough places on the ship for all the people who bought tickets. Superman then proceeds to raise a sunken boat and convert it into a giant floating shoe to be towed behind the cruise liner thus accommodating all those who had bought tickets for the cruise.
More and more of 'The Boss' rackets begin to fall and in retaliation, 'The Boss' decides to blow up the Daily Planet Print room to stop the Planet from printing anymore stories about the racket. Superman simply turns around and prints all the issues of the Daily Planet newspaper at super-speed manually. The gangsters then talk about kidnapping Lois Lane in order to stop Superman. At the same time there is a landslide at the cave where Superman has hidden Perry White, which un-blocks the entrance to the cave allowing Perry to go free. Perry decides that he can no longer hide from this and must do something. He heads back to the office where he learns of Lois's kidnapping and the location of where the gangsters are keeping Lois. He decides to pretend to be Superman and go and rescue Lois from the gangsters.
Perry bursts through the door of the gangsters hide out as if he were indeed Superman and tells them to release Lois Lane. Unfortunately for Perry a heavy book is dislodged from the bookcase landing on his foot resulting in Perry crying in pain and revealing he's not actually Superman. The gangsters then knock him out with the butt of one of their guns and then send a coded message to Superman letting him know that they have both Lane and White. Also receiving this message is 'The Boss' himself who decides to go and investigate this new revelation for him. 'The Boss' of the racket comes in and accuses Perry of being a phoney and in an instant strikes him across the face and yells in pain over the hit. Perry White gets up and reveals that he is in fact Superman in disguise as Perry White. Both Perry and Superman beat up the gangsters.
Later back in the Daily Planet, Superman reveals how in fact he dropped the book on purpose to reveal Perry as a phoney and how he switched the real Perry White for himself while the gangsters were sending the coded message to him. All is revealed how everything proceeded according to Superman's master plan. People of Metropolis are once again baffled as to the true secret identity of Superman. Lois Lane then proceeds to face a rather amused Clark Kent who pays Lois out about the whole queen reporter status that she would have, with Lois storming off in a huff!
Story - 3: There is nothing really that special in this story. Superman takes on a disguise to catch the criminals. It is still quite an enjoyable story to read and the little tiff between Lois and Clark at the end is quite cute, but as I said nothing special. In some ways it is the type of story that we saw in The Adventures of Superman TV series with George Reeves.
Art - 4: This is classic Wayne Boring artwork. How can you tell when nothing is written? Well you just look at the classic big chest that Superman and Perry White have. The drawings are very nice and artwork is in the classic 40's style. Boring's facial expression on the characters in this story is very good.
Somewhere in Metropolis the Toyman is discussing crime's greatest enemy, Superman. The Toyman tells some fellow criminals how brains are better than brawn. The criminals reply that Superman is both very strong and is very smart. The Toyman then replies with "Superman is intelligent, but I am a genius!" He then informs the criminals that he has created a super-toy which will out think Superman called the Super-brain. The machine is a form of Artificial Intelligence. The Toyman proceeds to demonstrate the Super-brain's capability. The Super-brain then constructs a model of the crime scheme and plays it out. It shows a clear get away with the aid of the smoke screen in the criminal's car. The Toyman then introduces the variable of having Superman show up. He then proceeds to ask the computer to compute a solution to this problem. The computer then shows the solution. Moments later the real criminals play out the planned heist. Superman appears from out of nowhere, but the Toyman is not worried in the slightest. All of a sudden each of the criminals rises up into the air with their own personal helicopter. Superman follows in pursuit but is stopped by a bunch of small parachutes that are brandishing deadly weapons, which begin to fire at the Man of Steel. A group of people are watching below. Superman realises that they cannot hurt him, but they can certainly hurt the people watching below. Superman then proceeds to dig up a lake turning into a kind of swimming pool that he collects all the falling weapons in.
Later at the Daily Planet, Superman is back disguised as mild mannered reporter Clark Kent. Perry White then tells Clark that he did a good job on writing up the story of what happened and commented on how it seems as though he was up there with Superman. Perry then tells Lois and Clark how he wants them to cover the bank moving the next day. Elsewhere the Toyman tells his partners in crime about the bank move and gets the Supercomputer to calculate another strategy for stealing the bank. The computer then tells the Toyman and the gangsters how to perform the robbery. The very next day, the Toyman and his fellow criminals proceed to play out the scenario as the computer has instructed. Soon after the criminals make there move Lois and Clark turn up on the scene and notice what has just gone down. Clark tells Lois to question the bystanders while he calls the police. In actual fact he proceeds to find the nearest phone booth and changes into Superman. The criminals proceed to finish executing the computer's plan while Superman proceeds to save the police officers caught up in the robbery. Superman then proceeds to scan the city with his x-ray vision but cannot find the bank even in the boarded up mansion that the Toyman has used. He then proceeds to tunnel his way underground and scans the boarded up mansion from beneath where he discovers the missing bank. It appears as though the Toyman insulated the walls of the old mansion with lead but left the floor uncovered (See my review of Action Comics #124 where Superman can actually see through lead! An Interesting contradiction!) Superman tunnels into the hideout and hides away listening to the next plan that the super-computer comes up with and he is now prepared for the next caper to be attempted by the Toyman and his fellow criminals. Superman proceeds to arrest the criminals and then faces off against the Toyman and his machine. The Toyman once faced with Superman asks the computer how he can defeat Superman. The computer then blows up unable to answer the Toyman's question. Superman then takes the Toyman to jail.
Story - 4: This story was the better of the two. It was more of a challenge to our super crime fighter from another world. I have not read many stories that involve the Toyman directly, but I have to say that it was a rather enjoyable one. In some ways when you look at the character of Bad Brain Johnson in the Lois & Clark TV show, that character was more similar to the Toyman character of the comic book as opposed to the Toyman character that was in the show. If you read my other review of Action Comics #124, I posed a question in regards to Superman's ability to see through lead. I guess I found my answer in the second comic I reviewed. In some ways I find this to be a good thing reviewing these Comics as I have a few of the older Superman comics and it forces me to actually sit down and read the things that I spent hundreds of dollars on collecting. At least the Super-Brain was smart enough to realize that crime doesn't pay and there is no answer to the Toyman's question "How do I defeat Superman?"
Art - 3: Plastino's artwork is quite good, however he did struggle with Superman's shoulders in the flying poses in his earlier work. It can be seen in the cells where Superman is flying that his shoulders don't quite look natural enough; at least the way Boring was able to capture Superman's body position in flight. To Plastino's credit though he did begin to improve and by the time the Silver Age came around he was right up there. Plastino still achieves some really great action shots. In this issue it is quite difficult to actually tell the difference between Boring's work and Plastino's work, but it is only a little tell tale sign that kind of indicates who the artist is. I cross-referenced the artists with the Overstreet Comics Price Guide which put Boring and Plastino down as the artists during this period when this issue was released.
Cover Art - 5: This is a typical cover of the 1940's Superman issues where the cover picture doesn't actually relate to anything that is covered in the actual stories. It is though a really great cover with Superman wearing a baseball umpire's cap and a baseball player arguing with him. This is a fantastic and very comical drawing by Boring. It definitely indicates how comics were fun back in those days and not overly serious.
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