After the devastating events of WAR OF THE SUPERMEN, Superman looks to reconnect with the roots of his battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way. “Grounded” begins as Superman visits Philadelphia – on foot – then continues in a small town in Ohio where, as in many towns, a number of its residents are from other places. But when The Man of Steel discovers that there are also a number of residents secretly from other worlds, he unravels a mystery that may have grave ...
After the devastating events of WAR OF THE SUPERMEN, Superman looks to reconnect with the roots of his battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way. “Grounded” begins as Superman visits Philadelphia – on foot – then continues in a small town in Ohio where, as in many towns, a number of its residents are from other places. But when The Man of Steel discovers that there are also a number of residents secretly from other worlds, he unravels a mystery that may have grave consequences for Earth.
Humanizing Superman can be a difficult proposition, given the scope of his powers. In the “Grounded” story arc, the first six issues of which are included in this graphic novel, Straczynski and Barrows bring Superman to the ground, facing everyday problems and reminding himself that the big issues that face the world aren’t the only problems that are important. The effect is a Superman that is approachable, not only to readers but to the Americans in the comics. What could come off as a condescending call to community involvement instead reads as Superman’s earnest nature: he really believes that everyone—including himself—should try to make the world a better place. The artwork echoes the earnest tone with typically bright colors and as much focus on facial expressions as dramatic action. Exchanges between Superman and Batman or Superman and Lois provide laughs in an otherwise serious story. The biggest flaw with this compilation is that it contains only part of the story; a new enemy will presumably take Superman back to loftier concerns in future installments. The spin on Superman will intrigue some fans while others wait to return to the status quo. (Aug.)
This fine volume finds Superman—after an extended absence from Earth and the traumatic loss of his kindred, chronicled in the "New Krypton" series and War of the Supermen—journeying across the United States on foot to reconnect with his adopted home. Along the way, he visits a diner, shoots some hoops, and deals with an abusive father. He also gets attacked by a superpowered brawler, and collateral damage from their battle leads some to question whether Superman's presence is making them more safe or less. Superman is given an especially philosophical mood by Straczynski (Babylon 5), quoting Thoreau and having a moving discussion with a woman threatening suicide. Even when he discovers a group of illegal aliens (from another planet, that is), the book retains a real-life, topical basis. VERDICT Straczynski's stories are strongly illustrated, mostly by Barrows—one episode penned by G. Willow Wilson and focusing on Lois Lane fares less well artwise. A step up from recent Superman volumes; recommended for all fans of the character.—S.R.
J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI is a writer and television producer who has worked in a variety of media, including comics, novels, TV, film, and radio dramas. He is perhaps most known as the creator and showrunner of the Babylon 5 TV series, and its spin-off Crusade. He was also the creator of Jeremiah for Showtime. Straczynski has written numerous film scripts, including Changeling starring Angelina Jolie, which was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay. His comics work includes Rising Stars for Top Cow/Image, The Amazing Spider-Man, Supreme Power and Thor for Marvel, and now SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN for DC Comics. He is also the author of the SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE graphic novel.