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Superman Returns Prequel #1

Posted: Monday, June 12, 2006
By: Michael Bailey



"Krypton to Earth"

Writers: Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris (story adaptation), Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (writers)
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

Publisher: DC Comics


Plot: Krypton is doomed! Jor-El, one of its leading scientists, tries to convince the Council to take measures to ensure the survival of the Kryptonian race. They refuse to listen and order that he keep his theories to himself. Soon after, when Krypton goes into its final death throes, Jor-El places his infant son Kal-El into a ship he had previously constructed along with a set of crystals detailing Krypton's history. The ship lifts off and Kal-El begins his journey to Earth as Krypton explodes. On his journey, Kal-El listens as his father's voice instructs him on a variety of subjects. The craft crashes to Earth, and Kal-El is found by an elderly couple.

Commentary: Superman: The Movie never had a comic book adaptation.

That's kind of weird. When the movie came out in 1978, it was the biggest comic book film ever made, and DC did very little in the way of putting out any kind of specials. DC Comics Presents made its debut that year (probably around May), and there were two contests, one of which offered a walk-on role in the film as the grand prize while the other had an authentic Superman cape worn by Christopher Reeve himself as the main swag. There was also a really nice tabloid sized special that had all kinds of behind-the-scenes information and neat photos.

But a comic book adaptation? That wouldn't happen until Superman III.

(Superman IV: The Quest for Peace had one too, by the way, and it was much better than the film that it was based on.)

So in my opinion this comic book was long overdue.

It was also a well written comic. Palmiotti and Gray went in their own direction with the dialogue but also knew when to go word-for-word from the movie. More importantly for me, they provided a faithful adaptation of the first act of Superman: The Movie. It would have been nice to see more of Lara, but the script was tight as it is and frankly, this book seemed to be designed for those who are not as familiar with the Richard Donner film, so it makes sense that Palmiotti and Gray stuck with the basics.

Ariel Olivetti's art was amazing. The early scenes showing life on Krypton were interesting, especially seeing how important the crystals were to their everyday lives. This gave us some insight into how Krypton worked as a planet, which I appreciated. Ariel's storytelling was particularly strong and the pacing of the action and drama was dead on. It should be noted that Nestor Pereyra, the colorist, nailed the misty/dreamy feel that Geoffrey Unsworth, the film's cinematographer, gave the movie. Nestor also recreated the reflective effect that the Kryptonian's robes had, which was accomplished in the film with a special material designed by 3-M and some camera tricks.

By far my favorite bit of artwork was the last page. Ariel drew the Christopher Reeve Superman with a surprising amount of detail. It was kind of sad but really awesome at the same time.

In The End: I'm glad DC decided to put this series out. Superman Returns is probably the biggest comic book film of the past six years (just like Superman: The Movie was back in '78), and this series is just the thing to not only promote the film among comic book readers but also to give newcomers a heads up on what has gone before. As a fan of the Richard Donner film, I much appreciated this issue. While I enjoyed Palmiotti and Gray's writing, it was the artwork that sold me on this comic. I cannot express how impressed I was with Ariel's artwork. Like the writing, it had a look all its own with a sprinkling of the familiar. I know I am going to enjoy the rest of this series, but on a deep and personal level I think this issue will be my favorite.



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