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Review: Superman: Year One #2 Introduces a Superman Sniper and new Super Power

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) cover artwork by Danny Miki, John Romita Jr., Alex Sinclair

Read this review to find out if Superman: Year One #2 is worth buying

Superman: Year One #2 by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.

About: Superman: Year One #2 (2019)

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) cover artwork by Danny Miki, John Romita Jr., Alex Sinclair
Written by: Frank Miller
Artwork by: John Romita Jr.
Inking by Danny Miki
Color by Alex Sinclair
Synopsis "Clark Kent’s journey of self-discovery continues in the second installment of Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s remarkable reimagining of Superman’s origin story. This chapter takes young Clark to the Pacific coast and beyond, as he discovers a place as sensational as he is…Atlantis! There he meets new people, finds love, clashes with gargantuan beasts and discovers the man he’s meant to be."
On Sale Date: Aug 21st, 2019
U.S. Price: $7.99

If you want to avoid spoilers for this comic then skip to the overall section at the end.

Warning: Spoilers for Superman: Year One #2 (2019)

Legendary comic artist Frank Miller takes on the early days of Superman in this DC Black Label limited series comic book outside of DC continuity.

The first thing you have to accept in this Superman story is that Clark Kent would join the army and be willing to kill. Because that's what half the comic hinges on. After that, you have to accept mermaids exist and that's actually an easier pill to swallow.

The story picks up where Year One #1 ends with Clark Kent graduating and joining the Army. Superman in the military is a strange idea, but he's always been considered a patriotic guy so it's not too far fetched that he'd want to support his country.

Watching Clark go through basic training is grueling as Miller shows the intense effort and pain of military training. Of course, Clark is Superman so none of it bothers him. But he does work hard to keep from showing his abilities. At first. I'm assuming Miller is implying that he hasn't learned to hold back at such a young age because he starts using his superpowers to quickly advance through the ranks.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

Eventually, he catches the eye of Captain Kurtzberg the troop leader. Kurtzberg is the birth name of legendary artist Jack Kirby so it's either a coincidence or a strange homage. Probably both. Anyway, the guy notices Clark doesn't sweat and has incredible stamina. For some unexplained reason, he keeps it to himself. Although it might be because he admits to watching mermaids playing offshore.

Clark excels at shooting and gets fast-tracked to the Navy SEAL program.

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

 Here's where the story takes a left turn. There's no way Superman would enjoy killing and the skills of killing. But besides that, there's only a half-hearted explanation of why he would. The idea that a farm kid from Kansas would have confused morals to the point that he'd enjoy practicing killing people is ludicrous. But once again he's easily outmatching the other trainees.

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

While on shore leave he meets a girl who gets harassed by a guy. Clark kindly asks the guy to leave and the jerk starts trying to fight him. A brawl breaks out and Kent gets blamed for starting it. Why? No idea. It doesn't even show him punching the guy.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

But then it takes another turn and gets stranger. Clark heads into the ocean and discovers that he can breathe water. This is a big change from comic book history where he just holds his breath for a really long time.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

Miller and Romita reintroduce the Silver Age love interest mermaid Lori Lemaris who first appears in Superman #129 (1959) by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring. The design is gorgeous and a wonderful modernization of mermaids and Atlantis. He helps the Atlanteans rebuild their city after a submarine crashes onto it.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

The two inexplicably fall in love without explaining how he got over Lana Lang so fat. But he heads back to the surface for more murder training. Finally, it starts to get to him.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

At this point, the story has a 180 shift in tone from Atlantis as Clark goes on his first SEAL run where unnamed Middle Eastern terrorist has slaughtered the crew of a tanker. Kurtzberg tells the team to kill everyone and the rest of the troop obliges. While Superman doesn't join in he doesn't seem to mind watching heads explode around him.

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

After about 1,000 guys get killed he decides to intervene and talks one of the terrorists down letting a grenade explode harmlessly in his hands. Kurtzberg knowns what's happening but doesn't say anything. Clark is honorably discharged for refusing an order and the captain gives him a pep talk that he should do something good with his gifts.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

So Clark heads back to Atlantis. In a normal comic this would be the end of issue one and the beginning of issue three. But for this "giant" issue the story continues. Once in Atlantis, he changes into a super-suit styled like the Silver Age Superman. But, as usual for Romita his artwork has strange inconsistencies. The head is small, the chest is broad and muscular, his waist is skinny and the legs look like tree trunks. I love you man, but pick a style!
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.
He goes to see Lori's father Poseidon and the guy is bonkers. He doesn't like Lori's boyfriend, so he tries to have him killed but Clark survives. As a last resort, he orders one of his giant Krakens to attack Clark and eat him. The artwork is beyond gorgeous but at this point, it starts switching captions around to add the thoughts of the Kraken to the conversations between Lori, Poseidon and Superman. It gets really confusing after a while honestly.

Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

He starts ranting and raving about her love for him and how he doesn't want Clark to get between them. It seems like standard Dad talk until he says that Lori is going to be his bride. Yeah, Poseidon is planning to have an incestuous marriage with his young daughter. That's Frank Miller folks!

Everyone is excited when Superman beats the Kraken and make him the new king on the spot. Poseidon leaves vowing revenge.
Superman: Year One #2 (2019) comic artwork by John Romita Jr.

Overall: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Summary: An earnest but flawed attempt to tell an original Superman story gets bogged down by mischaracterization and an uneven tone but saved by gorgeous artwork.

The price is steep for this 65-page DC Black label title and I'm not sure if it's worth it. The story could have been broken into two parts and it would have worked just as well. John Romita's lines and layouts are excellent. The inking by Danny Miki and colors by Alex Sinclair really enhances the work. So the artwork makes this one hard to beat. The art isn't consistent but that's Romita for you. He isn't everyone cup of tea.

For a comic about a less familiar superhero, this would have been a good story but it's completely out of step with Superman. Miller is known for breaking rules and new ground but showing Superman with a gun left a bad taste in my mouth. He's the wrong guy to write a Superman story but that's Miller for you.

I wouldn't recommend buying the comic, but borrow it from a friend or the library.

Buy Superman: Year One 2& on Comixology

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