REVIEW: Superman Year One #3

Superman Year One #3 is here and heralds the end of Frank Miller and John Romita Jr epic re imagining of Superman’s formative years. This series has taken Superman on an epic journey from the familiar surroundings of Smallville to the unknown depths of Atlantis. One thing is for sure, this series has been anything but predictable and unpredictability is a commodity hard to come by regarding a character who has just turned 80.

The cover is created by interior artist John Romita Jr and is just SO powerful. Superman bares the weight of The Daily Planet globe on his shoulders as the structure appears torn from its foundation. The globe itself dominates the cover which I love as it really emphasizes the enormous weight pushing down on the Man of Steel. Superman’s face is etched with determination as every sinew in his body is stretched and strained, this is clear thanks to Danny Miki’s exquisite inks.

Superman year one #3
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The variant cover for this issue is created by Frank Miller and features the iconic Trinity of Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman as they look towards the sky in defiance. The colours on this cover are the true hero as they pop straight of the page, thanks to the colours by Alex Sinclair. The blue of Superman’s costume is so vibrant and catches the eye straight away. The sunset lit sky is so beautiful and truly represents hope and the thought of a better tomorrow. The Trinity themselves look inspiring as always thanks to Miller’s timeless style.     

Superman year one #3 variant cover
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

This final issue opens up with Lois Lane encountering the Man of Steel for the very first time. This iconic duo’s first encounter has been captured numerous times over the years across a number of media platforms. With that being said, Year One offers up perhaps the most off beat version imaginable. Lois Lane’s fearlessness and Superman’s determination are all on display however it’s the trappings surrounding the pair that make proceedings feel rather alien.

I love every moment of Superman’s encounter with Lois. His determination and willpower in the face of insurmountable odds is inspiring and a wonderful representation of Superman’s true gifts. However, Superman battling a platoon of US marines immediately following Lois’s rescue didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Frank Miller’s incredibly descriptive narration and intricate dialogue adds depth to this engagement, however its Superman’s actions towards the soldiers that feel the most alien and out of place for me.

As the issue progresses, we enter perhaps our most familiar phase of the Superman story since the first issue, as Clark makes his way to Metropolis in search of a career at the Daily Planet. I simply adore how Frank Miller depicts Superman’s journey in regards to the creation of his civilian persona. I believe this depiction of Clark Kent mirrors that of Christopher Reeve’s beloved iteration from 1978. The depiction of characters such as Lois Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are all totally quintessential and on point. Perry is all bark and bluster, while Lois is sassy, ballsy and fearless. Frank Miller writes a fierce Lois Lane who breaks through every barrier put in her way. Lois truly has some daredevil moments in this issue, as we expected.

This issue includes a wonderful montage of Superman stepping up and making the save as a number of crimes take place. From domestic violence to bank robbery, all aspects of crime are covered, including undoubtedly the main set piece of the issue as a hostage situation unfolds at none other than Lexcorp. This whole sequence is epic and features incredible panoramic action as artist John Romita Jr utilizes a plethora of creative page layouts that allow for the action to breathe and evolve naturally. This entire sequence benefits massively from the creative team devoting ten pages for the action to play out over. This is certainly a benefit of being published under the Black Label imprint.

As we move forward, proceedings certainly speed up as a number of iconic characters from the DC Comics pantheon make their appearance. Now a lot of what occurs next does feel slightly rushed and could have benefited from a fourth installment. A lot of the character development we receive in this sequence appears almost out of nowhere considering these are first time encounters for most of these characters.

The action and combat featured in this sequence feels very much inspired by Batman V Superman – Dawn Of Justice. Fan Service is a term batted around an awful lot lately and is usually considered a negative. Well, in my opinion fan service is most certainly a positive, and the later portions of this issue are full of it. Seeing legendary relationships forming in the embryonic stage is fascinating especially when seeing it through the eyes of two industry legends in Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.

This issue and the series overall feels like a celebration of Superman. This final installment features multiple core elements that are an integral part of the Superman mythos, while keeping proceedings feeling fresh and unpredictable. Frank Miller’s narration and dialogue is very rich and full of description. At times it is a little hard to follow exactly who’s talking, but you soon become accustom to Frank’s unique writing style that really is unlike anything else on the shelves today. Even though relationships at times do feel rather rushed, Frank Miller still manages to write compelling dialogue that is passionate and certainly reflects the characters personality.

Superman Year One #3 felt like a movie, as it is presented in large scale format. John Romita Jr has created very dynamic artwork that allows Superman to truly breathe and expresses himself be it in flight or during combat. I have to say that the three work very well together – Frank Miller, John Romita Jr and Alex Sinclair have really outdone themselves on the artwork of this book, including the covers.

The scale and scope of the city which encompasses our beloved characters plays just as big a role as the heroes and villains themselves. Metropolis looks magnificent. The glow radiating from the city streets light up the night sky beautifully thanks to Alex Sinclair’s wonderful colours. Every page is a joy to behold.

Superman Year One #3 is incredible and a wonderful end to a very memorable series. I just wish we had a few more issues added to fully explain the relationships and let the story play out a little more. Frank Miller has a unique voice and it has been a pleasure reading his take on a character he has only briefly worked on prior to this series. 

Haven’t picked your copy of Superman Year One #3 yet? You can pick up the standard cover by John Romita Jr here (UK), or here (US). Prefer the variant by Frank Miller himself? You can pick that up here.

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